KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a federal fraud investigation can’t be mentioned during the murder trial of a Connecticut physical therapist accused of killing his wife and three children at their home in central Florida.
Osceola County Judge Keith Carsten on Tuesday sided with Anthony Todt’s defense lawyers, who argued that there was no evidence tying the fraud investigation to the killing of his family. Todt worked as a physical therapist in Connecticut during the week and spent weekends with his family at their home near Walt Disney World.
Federal agents serving an arrest warrant in January 2020 found Todt inside the family’s home with his dead wife Megan, 42, and three children, Alek, 13, Tyler, 11 and Zoe, 4. The family dog Breezy was also killed.
Details of his initial confession to deputies have not yet been made public, but Orange-Osceola Assistant Public Defender Peter Schmer told the court that Todt denied that the killings were tied to healthcare fraud, and prosecutor Danielle Pinnell said her team had never planned to tie the killings to the fraud case, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
“Mr. Todt went on at great length to talk about the motivation for the killings being this reckoning of an apocalyptic nature,” Schmer told the judge.
Court documents that have never been publicly released suggest Todt told deputies he strangled his family, the Sentinel reported. He later accused Megan Todt of drugging their children and later “stabbing and suffocating them.”
Still to be decided is whether a jury can learn about Todt’s initial confession. His lawyers argue he wasn’t mentally coherent when deputies interviewed him. They also say he was not properly advised of his rights.
Todt is charged with first-degree murder and animal cruelty, but the judge has prohibited referring to the killings as murder, and calling the house where the family was found dead “the murder scene.”
Todt was also allowed to appear in court unshackled, and the judge has forbidden mention of his last name as the German word for “dead,” the newspaper reported. The jury will be allowed to see photos of the victims’ bodies, despite protests from the defense.
During a four-hour hearing on Tuesday, lawyers and the judge sought to settle pending motions before jury selection, which is set to begin Nov. 1. The judge said the trial could still be delayed, calling next week’s date a “placeholder.”