CANTON, Ohio – A former Canton police officer convicted of killing his pregnant lover and their unborn child took the stand Monday to appeal for his life before a jury that must decide whether to recommend the death sentence.
Bobby Cutts Jr., 30, cried on the stand, as he did when he testified during his trial, and said he couldn't forgive himself for what happened to Jessie Davis and her nearly full-term fetus.
He begged jurors to have mercy and give him life in prison instead of sentencing him to die.
“Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I’m asking you to spare my life,” Cutts said, calling the situation a "nightmare."
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He read from handwritten notes on yellow legal-pad sheets, his voice shaky. His mother and Davis' mother both wept along with him during his testimony.
"Perhaps the hardest part is the knowledge that I left Blake, my son, alone in my moments of panic and selfishness," Cutts told the jury. "I will never be able to forgive myself."
Cutts' testimony came Monday afternoon on the first day of the sentencing phase of his trial.
Earlier in the hearing, which could last for several days, his mother testified that Cutts was a devoted father and hardworking patrolman.
"Having my son in my life means a lot to me," said Renee Jones, whose voice trembled as she testified in front of her sniffling son.
Prosecutors called no witnesses to buttress their case for imposing the death penalty.
Jones, twisting a tissue between her fingers, testified that Cutts was a fun-loving youngster and a serious, gifted student who sometimes cried over his class work.
"He was a child who was always happy," she said.
After his parents divorced, Cutts had a rocky relationship with his father, who sometimes failed to show up as promised at his son's games, Jones said. As a police officer, Cutts watched out for seniors and sometimes took curfew violators to their homes instead of jail, she said.
Cutts was convicted Feb. 15 of aggravated murder in the death of the nearly full-term fetus and of murder in the death of Davis, 26.
He could receive the death penalty, life in prison without parole or life with parole eligibility after 20, 25 or 30 years. If the jury recommends death, Common Pleas Judge Charles E. Brown Jr. can reduce the sentence to life, something that has happened just seven times in Ohio in 27 years.
The trial's sentencing phase could take several days. Attorneys are under a gag order. Jones was the first witness for the defense, which is trying to spare Cutts' life.
Under cross-examination by a prosecutor, Jones said she loved her grandchildren. Asked if she loved Chloe, the name given Davis's unborn baby, she responded, "If she was my grand baby, yes."
Cutts sobbed on the witness stand during the earlier trial as he testified he had accidentally killed Davis with an elbow blow to the throat during a disagreement and dumped her body in a park in a panic.
Prosecutors told the jury that Cutts killed Davis and the unborn baby last June at her Lake Township home to get out of child support payments for a fourth child.
The couple's 2 1/2-year-old son Blake, who was found home alone, 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."
For more than a week, Cutts denied knowledge of her whereabouts as thousands searched in the area. He finally led authorities to the body, wrapped in a comforter.
Cutts, who also was convicted of abuse of a corpse, burglary and child endangering for leaving Blake by himself, resigned from the Canton police.