Attorneys of the Cleburne mom arrested Friday for allegedly causing serious bodily injury to her 13-year-old son say documents in their possession run counter to allegations detailed in a sworn affidavit by a doctor. Statements by the doctor in the affidavit made against the mother do not support previous medical records made by the same doctor just two months earlier, attorneys said.
Dr. Todd Pearson, who was caring for Colby Tutt at Cook Children’s Medical Center, submitted a complaint to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services on May 9.
“Although Colby has a complex, chronic medical condition, we are concerned that his medical condition is not terminal, life-limiting, or necessarily irreversible,” a sworn affidavit obtained by the Times-Review reads.
But two months before, Pearson signed a recommendation for a length of stay in a nursing facility under the criteria that Colby was medically fragile. According to the guidelines on the recommendation, medically fragile means a serious chronic condition that results in prolonged dependency on medical care. The individual who is medically fragile must need daily skilled nursing care and require medical devices to prolong life.
“Generally speaking, you are not referred to hospice if you are expected to live beyond six months,” said Lisa Powell, one of Tutt’s attorneys. “But, he is the director of palliative care and he is the one who certified that his illness necessitated hospice.”
Born at 27 weeks, Colby weighed 1 pound, 3 ounces, and measured 9 inches long. He spent six months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before he was allowed to go home
In an April Times-Review article, Tutt said a brain hemorrhage at birth led to her son’s diagnosis of 34 separate medical conditions — a list that includes a blood infection, heart condition, kidney disease, short-term memory loss, high-functioning autism and brittle bone disease.
Christopher Cooke and Powell represent Tutt regarding the CPS case which is being handled in Johnson County. Both stressed that Tutt has not been indicted on any criminal charges in Tarrant County.
Both attorneys said the statements made by Pearson — which contributed to CPS’ decision to remove Colby and his brother from their home — are not the only allegations that contradict Colby’s medical status.
“I think the case against Danita has been grossly exaggerated based on misinterpreted affidavits from Dr. Pearson,” Cooke said. “There are five doctors who have diagnosed him as being terminal and if you are going to write an affidavit, it has to be factual because that is the whole foundation of what the law is, that people tell the truth when they sign an affidavit. If it’s not factual, bad things happen and this family’s lives have been devastated because of it. Frankly, they are going to have a black mark on them the rest of their lives no matter what happens.”
On April 18, Colby’s then primary care doctor Natalia Hanson submitted certification documents to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services declaring Colby as terminally ill with a medical prognosis of six months or less to live, if the illness ran its normal course. Terri Weinman, director of hospice of Angel Unaware, also signed the certification.
“That was just two weeks before he was removed by CPS,” Cooke said.
According to a report made April 22, doctors updated the plan of care for Colby to result in a “peaceful death with dignity.”
“And that was signed by another doctor, a registered nurse, a social worker and the chaplain — not the parents at all,” Cooke said. “So all four of these were signing off that this was going to be the plan of care for this child.”
Powell reiterated that the claims made to CPS do not match what the doctors previously documented.
“If he’s not terminal, you don’t check ‘death with dignity,’” she said.
The attorneys said other allegations made against Tutt that she was lying about Colby’s medical history, prompting him to undergo unnecessary surgeries and be placed on unneeded pain medications, are false.
“The [illness] that he was terminal over was nothing that could be faked by the mother,” Powell said. “He had colon issues where they were not processing waste and that can only be diagnosed with a scope, which was done. And secondly his esophagus was too small and had a significant tear in it. He had three surgeries on his esophagus and after that they were told there was nothing else they could do for him.
“So it’s not a question of she says ‘He can’t do this,’ or ‘This is bad.’ These are things that can only be verified through medical procedures which were all done.”
After Pearson recommended Colby go on hospice, the family moved him to the Ronald McDonald House in Fort Worth, which partners with Cook Children’s Medical Center.
“They kept telling [the parents] ‘He’s dying,’ but, the boy wasn’t dying as far as we can tell,” Cooke said. “The parents decided to get a second opinion and they ordered an ambulance to take Colby to the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. And it was the next day CPS came.”
Powell said another allegation claims the pain medication was given based on Tutt’s word.
“I’ve got nurses’ notes that completely flies in the face of that,” she said. “One of the interesting things is after they kicked the parents out and just did the Ronald McDonald House observance without the parents, Colby rated his pain at a 10 without his mother around. So, the things that were said in the affidavit, that the pain answers always came from the mom, are not correct.”
Colby and his brother have been placed with their maternal grandparents in Lake Worth.
“In the last hearing we had, they tried to remove the kids from the maternal grandparents and 18th District Judge [John] Neill said no,” Powell said.
“They tried to make the claim that unless the maternal grandparents acknowledged there was something wrong they too were endangering the child,” Cooke added.
At this time, no charges have been filed against Colby’s dad, Clint Tutt.
“Clint was not charged criminally and that in itself is telling,” Powell said. “Most Munchausen by proxys are the mothers and most Munchausens are men. So, it is not surprising that they focus on the mother as the problem because she was the stay-at-home mom. She was the primary care giver. But, the decisions were made by them together. They are a team and will continue to be.”
Attempts to reach CPS were unsuccessful.