Tuttle makes initial court appearance

Travis Tuttle

A local man facing several felonies following the drug-related death of his 8-year-son has made his first court appearance.

Travis E. Tuttle, 35, of 4373 Serenity Drive, appeared via video conferencing from the jail for his initial hearing before Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge James Worton.

Tuttle is accused of neglect of a dependent causing death in the March 21 death of his son, Clifty Creek second-grader Lealyn Tuttle, from acute fentanyl and diphenhydramine intoxication.

Formal charges filed against the defendant are neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a Level 1 felony, and possession of a narcotic drug, a Level 6 felony.

During the initial hearing, Worton appointed public defender Jane Ann Noblitt to represent Tuttle in his upcoming court hearings. That includes a change of plea hearing scheduled for March 28 at 9:45 a.m., a pre-trial conference for April 18 at 11 a.m., and a tentative trial date of April 26, with jury selection beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Tuttle, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bond, has asked the court to lower his bond. Worton has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Dec. 15 at 3:15 p.m.

On the morning of March 21, Columbus police officers were sent to Tuttle’s apartment on the city’s east side in regards to a child who was reportedly not breathing, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

When officers arrived, they met with Tuttle and a short time later, located his 8-year-old son, Lealyn Tuttle, who was deceased inside the home, Harris said.

While Lealyn’s adoptive mother had full custody of the boy, the child was allowed to occasionally stay overnight at his father’s residence, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Tuttle told investigators that he had gone to bed at about 1 a.m. on March 21, while Lealyn was on the couch in the living room. Although the father claimed he saw his son asleep on the couch a few hours later, Lealyn was unresponsive when he was discovered lying on the floor at 11 a.m., according to court documents.

A search of a living room coffee table turned up aluminum foil containing what was later analyzed as a mix of fentanyl and diphenhydramine, court documents state.

A video on Tuttle’s cell phone showed the boy with foil on his upper and lower teeth and gums while imitating having jewelry worn over his teeth, investigators wrote. Lealyn was wearing the same shirt in the video that he had on when he was found unresponsive, the affidavit states.

A DNA analysis on the foil showed a profile of a mixture of two individuals, Tuttle and Lealyn, according to court documents.