I am the great-aunt of the 1-year-old baby, Sereniti, who was murdered in Conneaut, Ohio on Oct. 7, 2017. Sereniti was found in her home, dead with her skull caved in. Sereniti’s mother’s boyfriend, Joshua Gurto, fled the city, fled the state and was ultimately taken into custody by authorities in Pennsylvania. Mr. Gurto has since been sitting in the Ashtabula County Jail awaiting trial for the past four years.

Sereniti’s family is appalled and horrified by the way this case has been handled by our new county prosecutor. Currently, Prosecutor Colleen O’Toole is attempting to force a plea deal down the throats of both Sereniti’s family and the public, which would result in Mr. Gurto receiving 18 years in prison. This is a travesty if allowed to occur. Sereniti’s head was crushed and there is enough direct and circumstantial evidence to convict Mr. Gurto of this cold and calculated act.

We were assured by the office of the Ashtabula County Prosecuting Attorney in 2018 that Mr. Gurto would never see the light of day. Nicholas Iarocci, then the prosecutor, assured Sereniti’s family that there was enough evidence to put this monster behind bars for the rest of his life. Now, our new law-and-order prosecutor, Colleen O’Toole, has told us that the family should accept a plea deal because she didn’t believe that a jury would convict Mr. Gurto. It seems to me that Ms. O’Toole is lacking in the courtroom experience and confidence necessary to effectively perform her job.

If the court approves Ms. O’Toole’s plea deal with Mr. Gurto, what is life worth? My beautiful niece, Sereniti, only lived one year. She never had a chance to start life, go to school, to grow up or to do any of the normal things children do. Mr. Gurto, on the other hand, if O’Toole gets her way, will have the opportunity to start life over again in 18 years. How can anyone with a conscience or an ounce of humanity allow this to happen?

The family of Sereniti Jazz-Skye Sutley



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