Guilty of 1st-degree murder in killings of wife, kids – Orlando Sentinel

A jury found Anthony Todt guilty of first-degree murder Thursday for killing his wife, children and dog at their Central Florida home in 2020.

After more than six hours of deliberations, jurors reached a unanimous verdict after being deadlocked at one point.

Todt, 46, shook his head in shock as the verdict was read.

He was convicted on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of animal cruelty in the killings of 42-year-old Megan Todt; the couple’s children Alek, 13, Tyler, 11, and Zoe, 4; and their dog Breezy.

Circuit Judge Keith A. Carsten called Todt a “destroyer of worlds” and imposed four consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“Not one of those lives was less valuable than the other,” Carsten said.

Despite the guilty verdict, Todt maintained his innocence and continued to blame his wife for the killings, saying he was not there the night they died.

“I loved my wife. I loved my kids, ”he told the judge. “They were first and foremost in my life. I did not do this. I provided for my wife. I provided for kids. I did everything I could. ”

Megan Todt’s aunt, Cynthia Kopko, in a victim’s statement to the judge described her niece and children as loving people. Not only has her family suffered, but Kopko said the neighborhood kids who played with the Todt children have also been traumatized and ask if their fathers will kill them, too.

“Tony crushed his whole family by doing this,” Kopko said. “Everybody was mortified.”

Family back in Connecticut reacted as they watched the verdict come in via a livestream.

Stewart Peil, Megan Todt’s uncle and Kopko’s husband, started crying in the moments after Todt was sentenced, remembering the last time he saw his family alive.

The Todts had rented a lake house for a summer visit to Connecticut, he said – a vast property formerly home to a Boy Scouts camp. They swam in the pool, played games and enjoyed what none of them knew would be their last moments together as a family.

“That was it, that’s the last time we saw them,” he said.

During that visit, about six months before the murders, Megan Todt seemed happy and healthy, Peil said.

“She was fine, the kids were fine, everyone was fine,” he said. In his letters from jail and during his testimony statements in court after the verdict came back, Anthony Todt painted a picture of a woman so sick and weak that she could not walk upstairs to bed alone, or care for herself. He also said she killed their children and stabbed herself twice.

Megan Todt had been sick at one point, said her uncle, but not in recent years.

“She was very sick ten years ago but she was treated and she was fine and she recovered,” he said. “Every time I saw her she was fine. There was never any indication that she was frail or weak. This whole story that she was an invalid that he had to take care of, was not true with me. ”

As he watched the trial from his home, Peil said he watched the man he once considered a part of his closest family weave together a story that did not make sense to him.

Since the murders, and Todt’s claims of innocence via letters from jail, Peil said he and his wife’s questions about Todt’s account of the murders only grew and grew. They had no knowledge of Megan being sick, no knowledge of apocalypse fears or suicide pacts.

“It did not make any sense to Cindy and I and apparently it did not make sense to the jury, either,” he said.

Peil said he thinks Todt’s world started to crumble about six years ago and then became more unmanageable when Megan Todt and the children moved to Florida.

“I think he blamed his family for a lifestyle that he could not maintain,” he said.

“I wish he had gone to them and told them that they would need to live within their means,” he said. But instead, Todt started taking out loans and allegedly funneling money through a healthcare fraud scheme.

“His solution was, instead, to end everything. To end everything for them because I think in his mind he was stealing from Medicare for them, ”he said. Todt has not yet been tried in court for the alleged healthcare fraud charges.

Peil said that hearing the jury return all guilty verdicts and sentence him to more than life in prison offered a semblance of justice for him and his remaining family.

“It’s good to know that he’ll be held accountable for the rest of his life,” said Peil.

“For the rest of his life he’ll know that he wiped out his family because his business failed and he could not handle telling them that his business failed, that they would have to start over.”

Before the jury began deliberating, prosecutors told them Todt wanted “control” over not only the lives of his family but also their deaths.

After killing his wife, three children and dog, Todt used their phones to tell their relatives they were all sick, Assistant State Attorney Danielle Pinnell said. When Todt’s sister asked law enforcement to check on the family, she got a text from Megan Todt’s phone about believing in the apocalypse.

“How did she learn about this information? From the defendant, ”Pinnell told jurors during Todt’s trial at the Osceola County Courthouse. “Because we already know Megan’s dead.”

The prosecutor said Todt was deceptive after law enforcement found the bodies to maintain control, pretending his wife was sleeping and his kids were away. When he confessed to the killings in an interview with detectives, Todt told them he and his wife believed “they bring their children into this world, they should get to decide when they leave,” Pinnell said.

“[Todt] wanted control over the lives of his kids and over the life of Megan, ”she said.

His attorneys, though, argued Todt’s initial confession to killing his family contradicts evidence from a medical examiner and toxicologist. Todt described how he stabbed and smothered his children one by one, but the medical examiner said stab wounds on two children happened after their deaths.

“The state is essentially picking and choosing when they want you to believe Mr. Todt and when they do not, ”Assistant Public Defender Alesha Smith said.

Smith said law enforcement did little to corroborate Todt’s initial confession, including finding blood evidence in any rooms where the killings happened.

“We do not see any phone searches,” Smith said. “We do not see any Google searches. … [The detective] took Mr. Todt at his word and decided, ‘Hey, my job is done.’ ”

Todt’s father, Bob Todt, also watched the live stream of the trial, from his home in Massachusetts. He had once been estranged from his son for years, but the two had been speaking regularly since his son’s arrest.

Bob Todt said he worries that the jury “hung so much on the confessions.” Confessions he thinks should have been thrown out because of his son’s mental state at the time he made them – he’d been admitted to a hospital for mental health care under the Baker Act during at least one of the confessions, which the judge didn ‘ t allow to be heard by the jury.

Judge Carsten also ruled that the jury would not hear about Todt’s state of mental health. A decision Bob Todt thinks led to his son’s conviction.

“I think the blocking of his mental capacity was a killer,” he said Thursday, minutes after learning his son had been found guilty.

“I do not know how I’m going to deal with this,” he said.

Authorities discovered Todt living with his family’s blanket-wrapped decomposing bodies Jan. 13, 2020, while serving a warrant to arrest him on federal health care fraud charges related to his Connecticut physical therapy business. Megan Todt and her three children had been dead for “at least a couple weeks” before they were found, according to a medical examiner.

After his arrest, Todt told detectives he and his wife had an agreement to kill their family, prosecutors said.

“Everybody needed to die in order to pass over to the other side together because the apocalypse was coming,” Pinnell told jurors in the trial’s opening statements.

Todt said he and his wife spoke to their children about killing themselves.

“We do not want you to die,” Todt claimed his kids said. “We want to die with you.”

Jurors watched a video of the interrogation, in which Todt described how suffocated his children one by one, then his wife after she failed to commit suicide by stabbing herself. The cause of death for all four victims was homicidal violence of “unspecified means” in association with a Benadryl toxicity, the medical examiner said.

Testifying in his own defense, Todt said his wife became fixated with reincarnation as her health declined and came to believe that if they “burned the family karma” in their current life, they would be reincarnated to a better life.

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“Mr. Todt, what could have prevented Megan from killing her children? ” Orange-Osceola Public Defender Bob Wesley asked his client.

“I have no idea,” Todt testified. “We woke up that morning she was pain-free. Everything was good. … That’s the biggest thing that affects me. I did not see this coming. ”

In the weeks after the slayings, Todt told jurors he tried to kill himself in a variety of ways, including overdosing on Benadryl, though he “chickened out” of using a knife. He claimed to have no recollection of his interviews with detectives, and only remembered falling and waking up in jail.

“My testimony today is the fact that Megan killed her kids and killed herself,” he said.

Todt shed tears when questioned by his attorneys, but Pinnell said he became angry at the witness stand when she asked him to corroborate his version of events.

“He described himself as this loyal ‘I’ll do anything, I’ll take the blame for Megan’ man, ‘” Pinnell told jurors. “But something interesting that he said is, ‘Megan killed her kids.’ Not our kids. Not my kids. Her kids. ”

mcordeiro@orlandosentinel.com

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