A former police officer was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with a chance of parole after 57 years for killing his pregnant lover and their unborn child.
Jurors spared Bobby Cutts Jr. the death penalty in the most serious charge, an aggravated murder count in the death of the fetus.
Stark County Common Pleas Judge Charles Brown Jr. rejected a defense request to merge the sentences against Cutts, 30, but he could have allowed parole eligibility earlier.
Cutts had sobbed on the witness stand when he claimed the death of 26-year-old Jessie Davis from an elbow to the throat last June was an accident during an argument. He said he dumped her body in a park in a panic. He returned to the witness stand after his conviction to ask jurors to spare his life.
Prosecutors argued that Cutts killed Davis and the nearly full-term baby at her home in northeast Ohio to avoid making child support payments.
The couple’s son, Blake, then 2½, was found home alone and gave investigators their first clues to his mother’s disappearance when he said, “Mommy’s crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy’s in the rug,” and later, “Daddy’s mad.”
During statements before sentencing, the victim’s mother, Patty Porter, wept as she told the judge she was risking her family’s disapproval but wanted Cutts to be sentenced in a way that would allow him to be free at some point to share life with his son, Blake, now 3.
“I hope and pray I can raise him to forgive you,” she said. “He knows what you did. You would not believe the stories he’s told us.”
“I do forgive you,” Porter told Cutts, drawing tears from members of his family.
For more than a week, Cutts denied knowledge of her whereabouts as thousands searched in the area amid blanket national cable TV coverage. He finally led authorities to the body, wrapped in a comforter.
Jurors found Cutts, 30, not guilty of aggravated murder in the death of Davis but convicted him of a lesser charge of murder in her death. He was convicted of aggravated murder in the death of the fetus.
Cutts took the stand Monday to plead with jurors who convicted him. Sniffling and his voice wavering at times, he said he accepted responsibility for his crimes.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I’m asking you to spare my life,” Cutts said in an unsworn statement, which exempted him from cross-examination by prosecutors.
Apologizing to the teary-eyed members of Davis’ family sitting in the front row, Cutts said he could not express in words how he felt knowing that he had killed her and the baby.
Prosecutors told the jury that Cutts killed Davis and the unborn baby at her Lake Township home to avoid making child support payments for the child.
Cutts, who also was convicted of abuse of a corpse, burglary and child endangering for leaving Blake alone, resigned as a patrolman from the Canton police department.