Mother Accused of Murdering 4-Year-Old Son Who “Walks and Talks” Gay

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
March 28 2014 11:21 AM

Mother Accused of Murdering 4-Year-Old Son Who “Walks and Talks” Gay

dutro
Jessica Durto.

Photo viaWashington County Sheriff’s Office.

Outrage is growing today as news spreads of a truly horrific child-abuse case in Oregon: Jessica Durto, a mother of four, is standing trial in Portland facing charges of murder, murder by abuse, and second-degree assault in the 2012 death of her 4-year-old son, Zachary. According to reports, the boy died from blunt-force trauma to his abdomen causing intestinal punctures that went untreated for two days; Durto is accused of kicking her child in the stomach as what turned out to be the end of a pattern of abuse delivered, at least in part, because she believed Zachary to be gay.

The gay correction narrative emerged Wednesday when prosecutors won approval from Judge Don Letourneau to admit as evidence a Facebook message from Durto to her boyfriend Brian Canady, who has also pleaded guilty to manslaughter and assault charges relating to Zachary’s death. OregonLIve’s Emily E. Smith has the details:

In the message, Dutro told her boyfriend … that Zachary was “facing the wall” because he had made her mad.
Her son was going to be gay, she wrote, using a slur. “He walks and talks like it. Ugh.”
Canady would have to “work on” Zachary, she wrote.
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Durto is also alleged to have administered “lickins” to her other children regularly, and, as Smith reports, she was previously “convicted of assaulting her mother’s foster son in Hawaii, where a judge ordered her to take parenting and anger management classes.” In a chilling detail, Smith notes that, on the day Zachary’s life support was terminated, Durto is said to have conducted computer searches for the terms “anger management” and “parenting classes.” Would that she had managed such feats of self-reflection before allegedly “working” her child out of existence.

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.

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