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Florida to seek death penalty against Anthony Todt

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The state of Florida will seek the death penalty against Anthony Todt in connection with the deaths of his wife and three children, the 9th Judicial District State’s Attorney Aramis Ayala announced Tuesday.

Todt was charged Tuesday with four counts of capital murder and one count of animal cruelty after a grand jury and death penalty review panel reviewed his case, Ayala said during a news conference Tuesday.

Ayala’s office formally had charged Todt with four counts of second-degree murder on Jan. 29. In Florida, a defendant can be charged with capital crimes only if indicted by a grand jury.

The state’s attorney said Tuesday that the second-degree charges were “what we call a holding charge when we anticipate a first-degree murder charge.”

A grand jury convened on Tuesday and “returned an indictment charging him (Todt) with four counts of capital murder and one count of animal cruelty,” Ayala said. The independent death penalty review board then "unanimously voted to seek death in this case," she said.

Although Ayala has stood against the death penalty in the past, the state Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that her office must consider the death penalty in applicable cases. She did not openly oppose the decision Tuesday but said her position on the death penalty has not changed.

Police say Todt confessed in January 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. Todt originally was charged with four counts of first-degree premeditated murder and one county of animal cruelty on Jan. 15. He pleaded not guilty on Jan. 30.

Police found the bodies decomposing on the second floor of the family's home on Jan. 13. The bodies were found after police went to the home to arrest Todt on a warrant stemming from a federal investigation into health care fraud at his physical therapy practices in Connecticut. Dr. Joshua Stephany, chief medical examiner for the district, said that the family likely had been dead for weeks when they were discovered.

Ayala said that her office has been working closely with the Osceola County Sheriff's Office and the case’s lead detective, Cole Miller. She said her office also has been in contact with the Todts' families, who live in Connecticut.

“I can’t imagine the pain and agony that they’re going through, but we are going to absolutely do all that we can to make certain that justice is served,” Ayala said. “As we go through this process, I hope they are able to find some semblance of peace.”

Ayala said that it was too soon to set a trial date, but information from Tuesday's grand jury session and meeting of the death penalty review board would be submitted to the court clerk and a trial would be scheduled.

Todt will be arraigned before Judge Wayne Wooten in Osceola County Court at 8:45 a.m. on March 12, court records show.

Todt’s sister, Chrissy Caplet, and Megan’s aunt and uncle were unavailable when contacted to comment Tuesday afternoon.

t.hartz@theday.com

s.spinella@theday.com

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