KISSIMMEE, Fla. – A physical therapist from Connecticut suffocated his 4-year-old daughter by rolling on top of her and also killed his two sons and wife, a prosecutor told a Florida jury on Monday.
Anthony Todt told detectives that he and his wife, Megan, had an agreement to kill their family so they could “pass over” since the apocalypse was coming, Assistant State Attorney Danielle Pinnell said during opening statements in Todt’s murder trial in Kissimmee.
[WARNING: Images shown at trial may be graphic | LIVE UPDATES AT BOTTOM OF STORY: News 6 reporter live-tweeting from courtroom]
Todt, 46, is charged with first-degree murder for the deaths of his 42-year-old wife, his daughter, Zoe, and his two sons Alek, 13, and Tyler, 11. The victims’ decomposing bodies were wrapped in blankets and had stab wounds and toxic amounts of Benadryl in their bodies when they were found in January 2020, according to autopsy reports.
Todt has pleaded not guilty. He also has been charged with animal cruelty for the death of the family’s dog, Breezy.
He initially confessed to the killings but in jailhouse writings, he has since blamed his wife for the slayings. He was arrested in January 2020, but investigators believe the family members were killed weeks earlier.
Their bodies were discovered when federal agents and deputies went to the house to serve an arrest warrant for health care fraud charges in Connecticut. Todt had a physical therapy practice in Connecticut to which he would travel during the work week, returning to Florida to be with his family on weekends at their home in Celebration near Walt Disney World.
Jurors did not hear from Todt’s public defenders Monday. They had told the judge they wanted to wait to present their statements until after the state rests its case.
The state’s opening lasted about 20 minutes.
Prosecutors called Sergio Montanez, a 911 dispatcher with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, as their first witness as they played a call placed by Todt’s sister, who requested a well-being check because her family could not get a hold of her brother or his family.
The state next called a deputy who tried to make contact with Todt and his family.
About an hour after the trial began, a law enforcement officer called by the state testified about what he found inside the Todts’ home in Celebration, saying he found bodies in the master bedroom.
Body-camera video was then played for the jury, showing the inside of the Todt home as officers arrived. Todt could be seen sitting at the bottom of a staircase as deputies searched the home.
Body cam video shown of inside the Todt home as officers responded. Todt can be seen at the bottom of the staircase, sitting, as deputies search the home.— Lauren Cervantes (@LaurenNews6) April 11, 2022
Last week, state prosecutors and Todt’s defense team questioned a pool of 150 potential jurors. It took them three days to select the jury, made up of eight women and six men, with two being alternates.
Todt’s defense attorneys questioned potential jurors about their knowledge of the case.
“I know the court has asked whether you heard any publicity about this case. Did you hear the name Anthony Todt ring a bell when you heard it? Did it get any news coverage or anything like that?” his defense team asked.
Other lines of questioning surrounded potential jurors’ religious beliefs.
“Do you feel that because of your religious belief you may be fair and impartial in regard to this trial?” his defense team asked.
At the time of the discovery of the murders, Osceola County sheriff’s deputies and federal investigators were attempting to arrest the Connecticut physical therapist for healthcare fraud.
The medical examiner’s report said the victims died from Benadryl overdoses and that they were stabbed.
Former State Attorney Aramis Ayala said she would not seek the death penalty in this case, so Todt faces life in prison if convicted.
During pretrial hearings, Todt’s defense team won a motion to exclude parts of his confession. The defense argued detectives did not read Todt his Miranda rights before being interviewed when he was first arrested at the hospital.
Todt has since blamed his wife for the murders.
The judge expects the trial to last two weeks.