A former Oregon man charged in the Nov. 3 death of his father was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter Tuesday after Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Stacy Cook ruled the young man could not have foreseen the altercation would cause his father to suffer a fatal heart attack.
While exonerated on the more serious charge, Jacob Kutsch, 21, who now lives in Maumee, was found guilty of misdemeanor assault following the one-day trial before Judge Cook. He faces up to six months in jail when he is sentenced May 31.
Defense attorney Jerry Phillips said the case, which he referred to as “homicide by heart attack,” was similar to the one brought against the brother of Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. Mark Kerrigan was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter but convicted of assault and battery for a 2010 fight with his 70-year-old father that occurred just prior to his death from heart disease.
Dr. Cynthia Beisser, a deputy Lucas County coroner, testified Tuesday that John Kutsch, 58, died from heart disease but said she ruled his death a homicide because he had been in a physical struggle with his son just prior to his death.
“When one contributes something that’s not natural, then the manner [of death] has to reflect the contributing factor. In this case, the struggle with another person would make it a homicide,” Dr. Beisser said.
Mr. Phillips told the court father and son had argued about the cleanliness of the house and about a personal computer when John Kutsch engaged his son in a fistfight. Jacob Kutsch put his father in a chokehold to stop the fight, he said, and it wasn’t until about 15 minutes after the physical fight ended that John Kutsch confronted his son again, ordered him out of the house, and then collapsed.
He said Jacob Kutsch did not know his father suffered from heart disease, and medical records showed the elder Mr. Kutsch had not been treated for it.
“It’s sad that my client, no matter what happens in [the court case], feels a moral responsibility for his father’s death,” Mr. Phillips said after Judge Cook rendered her verdict. “I hope this allows him to start his life anew.”