A physical therapist from Connecticut was convicted Thursday evening of killing his wife, three young children and the family's dog two years ago in central Florida.
A 12-member jury found Anthony Todt guilty of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of animal cruelty. He was accused of killing his 42-year-old wife Megan, and his three children, Zoe, 4; Tyler, 11; and Alek, 13. The family's dog, Breezy, was also found dead in the home. Prosecutors weren't seeking the death penalty, which means Todt will receive a mandatory life sentence.
Earlier Thursday during closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Danielle Pinnell told the jury that Todt, 46, nonchalantly detailed the killings to investigators after his arrest at the family's home in Celebration, a community that is located close to Walt Disney World. He later claimed that he took the blame for his wife, who he said had killed the children and then herself.
"I was covering for my wife," Todt, 46, told the jury when he took the stand in his defense on Wednesday. "Obviously, unsuccessfully. I had no clue how my kids died."
But Pinnell told jurors Todt wanted to control the lives of his wife and children.
After his arrest, Todt then told detectives that "everybody needed to die in order to pass over to the other side together because the apocalypse was coming," Assistant State Attorney Danielle Pinnell told Osceola County Courthouse, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The victims were killed sometime after they were last seen in mid-December 2019, prosecutors said. Their decomposing bodies were found wrapped in blankets at the home on Jan. 13, 2020. They had stab wounds and toxic amounts of Benadryl in their systems, according to autopsy reports.
The defense team maintained the state had not proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The medical examiner, they said, could not determine whether the children were suffocated or strangled, and said the stab wounds were likely inflicted after death.
"He came home to his kids being dead, his wife was alive but essentially dying, and stabbed herself in front of him," Assistant Public Defender Alesha Smith told jurors.
In a 27-page letter written from the Osceola County Jail in 2020, Todt claimed his wife was still alive when he got home and confessed to killing the children before drinking a bottle of Benadryl and stabbing herself in the stomach, the Sentinel reported. "At the news of this I ran to the bathroom and puked — I was weak," Todt wrote.
Smith told jurors the state "is essentially picking and choosing when they want you to believe Mr. Todt and when they don't," she said.
But in her final words to the jury, Pinnell insisted that "there is no reasonable doubt in this case.''
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