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Todt pleads not guilty, charges reduced to second-degree murder

Anthony Todt, who police say confessed earlier this month to killing his wife, children and family dog, has pleaded not guilty. The charges against him were reduced Wednesday from first-degree premeditated murder to second-degree murder, according to court records.

Todt, who goes by Tony, originally was charged with four counts of first-degree premeditated murder and one county of animal cruelty on Jan. 15, according to an arrest warrant affidavit from the Osceola County Sheriff's Office that was unsealed last week.

On Wednesday, a new filing in Todt's case showed that Aramais D. Ayala, state attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit prosecuting for the state of Florida has charged him with four counts of second-degree murder. The animal cruelty charge remains.

The record states that the new charges allege that Todt killed two females and two males "by an act imminently dangerous to another, and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life." A person is charged with second-degree murder, rather than first-degree, when the murders were not premeditated, according to a Florida state statute.

Todt still could face first-degree murder charges. In Florida, a defendant can only be charged with capital crimes if indicted by a grand jury, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Todt allegedly confessed to killing his wife, Megan, their children, Alek, 13, Tyler, 11, and Zoe, 4, and the family's dog, Breezy, inside the home they rented in Celebration, Fla., according to a statement made by Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson on Jan. 15.

The charges filed Wednesday allege that Todt killed the family sometime in December 2019. Police found the bodies decomposing on the second-floor of the family's home on Jan. 13.

Dr. Joshua Stephany, chief medical examiner for the district, said that the family likely had been dead for weeks when they were found.

Preliminary autopsy reports found that Megan had been stabbed twice in the abdomen and Alek and Tyler had each been stabbed once in the abdomen. There was no evidence of injury on Zoe's body. The autopsy reports were considered incomplete, pending the results of toxicology tests, which had not yet been released.

On Thursday, Todt's arraignment was scheduled for 8:45 a.m. Feb. 6 in the Osceola County Ninth District Circuit Court. That will be Todt's second appearance since he was taken into custody on Jan. 13. He first appeared in court on Jan. 16, where the judge waived the reading of the charges and did not enter a plea. He is being represented by a public defender.

A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for April 15 and a jury trial is scheduled to begin April 27.

First-degree murder charges could carry the possibility of the death penalty, while second-degree murder charges could mean a sentence of up to a lifetime in prison.

t.hartz@theday.com

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