PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A prosecutor said on Thursday that a woman on trial for the murder of her 4-year-old son beat him because she thought he was gay.
Zachary Dutro died in August 2012 after collapsing at the homeless shelter where his family was living in Tigard.
His mother’s boyfriend pleaded guilty earlier this month to manslaughter and assault for his role in the homicide.
Jessica Dutro’s family declined to comment about the accusations she is facing from prosecutors while leaving court Thursday afternoon.
Jack Schwab, director of the homeless shelter where Dutro was staying with her boyfriend and four children in 2012, recalled the day Zachary was found unresponsive.
“They alerted our staff to the fact their son was unresponsive and he was lying in the shower. They had called 911,” said Schwab.
Shelter staff members, who are mandatory reporters of child abuse, said they never witnessed any warning signs from Dutro. Though looking back, they said some things stand out.
Alison Schultz babysat Zachary a few weeks before his death and noticed that Dutro was very strict with her children.
“The little boy was thirsty, and he said, ‘Do you have anything to drink?’ And (Jessica) said, ‘Don’t ask that kind of stuff.’ I said, ‘It’s okay. It’s no big deal.’ I got the boy some water, and he (said), ‘Thank you and please,’” said Schultz.
However, people who knew Dutro said they had no idea she would be accused of causing deadly injuries to Zachary for suspecting he might be gay.
Others close to the case said they puzzled as to how anyone could cause harm to a child for suspecting he is gay.
“How do you know that a 4-year-old is gay or exhibits some sort of gay behavior? I mean it mystifies me,” said Schwab.