Prosecutors say confession from boyfriend was to protect real culprit

DutroOpening arguments began this week in the case of Jessica Dutro, the 25-year-old mother of four accused of beating her 4-year-old son to death at a Tigard homeless shelter in 2012.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Megan Johnson and Deputy District Attorney Dustin Staten say the trial, which began on Monday in Judge Don LeTourneau's courtroom in Washington County Circuit Court, will prove Dutro beat her son Zachary so badly that she punctured his intestine in two places, causing internal damage that led to his death.

Zachary Kamaoka Dutro-Boggess was staying with his mother, her boyfriend Brian Canady and his three siblings at the Good Neighbor Center homeless shelter on Southwest Greenburg Road in August 2012.

Before coming to the shelter, the family was living in the 400 block of High Street in Oregon City.

Severe abuse

On Aug. 12, 2012, Zachary was lethargic, had diarrhea and was vomiting, Staten said.

These symptoms continued and worsened through his birthday on Aug. 14, when he was unable to eat dinner and returned to his room to rest.

On the morning of Aug. 15, Zachary wouldn’t wake up.

Canady and Dutro reportedly put the boy in the shower to see if the water would revive him, but Zachary’s body was like a ragdoll, Dutro told police in a taped interview.

“His head fell back, and his eyes started to roll,” Dutro told Tigard police in an interview on Aug. 14, which was played for the jury on Tuesday.

When first responders arrived to take the boy to the hospital, they knew there was something wrong, said Staten.

“He had blood on his mouth and a sore on his mouth," Staten said. “They didn't know why 911 hadn’t been called sooner.”

The boy was transported to Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel, where he died of his wounds on Aug. 16, 2012.

Dutro said at the time that she didn’t know how the boy could have sustained his injuries, but Staten argued that’s just not possible.

“The surgeons knew that these injuries were either from a bad car accident or trauma that parents would notice,” Staten said. “But there were no reports of that.”

Like an army

In recorded interviews with police, Dutro claimed she runs her family like an army.

Residents and staff saw the children rarely, Staten said. When they did, the children were well behaved.

“Staff saw them march from their room to dinner, and after they ate, they would put their heads down and wait for the parents to be done,” Staten told the court Monday. “It was militaristic behavior.”

Dutro's court appointed attorney Chris Coburn doesn’t deny that Dutro engaged in what he called “unusual parenting,” but said it didn’t make her a murderer.

“You may find that it crosses a line to being unreasonable,” Coburn told the jury during his opening argument. “But you won’t hear from a single credible source that she caused serious injuries and murdered her child.”

Staten said Dutro and Canady gave the children a “lickin’” when they disobeyed.

A lickin', said Tigard Police Detective Yonsoo Lee, who testified on Monday, was a term used in the Dutro family to refer to swats, spankings or other physical discipline that Dutro and Canady would use. The children also received, “dirty lickin’s,” which were punches, blows, kicks and other forms of assault.

Dutro denied using physical discipline on Zachary to police, and said she had no idea how the boy could have been hurt so severely.

Zachary Dutro-BoggessThere was always someone with the kids at all times, Dutro told police.

Dutro was working at Affiliated Computer Services, a call center in Tigard, during the day, and Canady was working at Kershaw Knives in Tualatin at night. The children were never out of their sight, Dutro told police.

Lee said Canady later confessed to kicking Zachary with his shoes on while he was upset with another resident at the shelter.

The couple was arrested on Aug. 20, 2012. Canady was initially charged with murder, and Dutro was charged with withholding medical treatment from the boy.

But prosecutors now say that isn’t what really happened.

Dirty lickin’

Staten said Canady confessed in order to protect Dutro. In truth, it was Dutro who delivered the last beating to the boy, Staten said.

“Zachary lived a life where he was physically assaulted on numerous occasions, which caused his passing,” Staten said.

Staten said Canady saw Dutro physically assaulting Zachary on Aug. 14, Zachary’s fourth birthday. She allegedly threw the boy to the ground and stomped on him, Detective Lee said.

Lee said during his testimony that Dutro called Canady at work to say she gave the boy “a ‘dirty lickin’ for acting out” later in the day as well.

After the boy’s death, Dutro reportedly told Canady’s father that she “took it too far this time," Staten said.

Coburn said Canady’s claim was the latest in a string of evolving stories about what happened that week.

Coburn told the court it was Canady who killed Zachary, he had said so himself when he admitted to kicking the boy following an argument with another resident at the shelter.

A child at the shelter reportedly heard commotion coming from the family’s room while Dutro was out of the room on Aug. 12.

“She said that what she heard scared her,” Coburn said. “That was when the blow was being administered by Brian Canady.”

Coburn argued that Canady was the physically abusive parent.

“That’s Brian Canady,” Coburn said. “And this isn’t the ‘State v. Brian Canady.’ It’s the ‘State v. Jessica Dutro.’”

Dutro faces five counts of murder, including murder by abuse, as well as second-degree assault.

‘She forgot that she didn’t hit us’

Two of Jessica Dutro’s other children also showed signs of abuse, said Deputy District Attorney Dustin Staten.

Her daughter had bruises on her back as well as marks and bumps on other parts of her body. Her 3-year-old son had healing rib fractures.

Dutro’s three oldest children are from a previous relationship. Her youngest — who was an infant while the family was staying at the Good Neighbor Center — is Brian Canady’s biological son.

“All but the baby showed signs of abuse,” Tigard Police Det. Yonsoo Lee told the court on Monday.

On Tuesday, the prosecution played a taped interview Tigard Police had with Zachary’s then-7-year-old sister.

At first, Dutro never hit her, she told police, but that changed.

“But then she forgot that she didn't hit us, and that changed to where she did hit us now,” the girl told investigators.

Dutro’s daughter told police she witnessed an incident shortly before Zachary's death, when she saw her mother and Canady beating Zachary.

“They hitted Kamaoka,” she told Tigard Police, calling Zachary by his middle name. “Then stuff came up in his tummy, and he started not talking or breathing and stuff, and making all these weird sounds.”

Dutro’s daughter told Tigard Police she and her siblings would receive beatings when they misbehaved, or be forced to stand against the wall with their arms raised high for several minutes.

“They only hurted Kamaoka because he didn't listen to them,” she told police. “They kicked him and punched him and kept doing it and doing it. They knew he was sick and stuff, but didn't tell anybody.”

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