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Cutro says he was hoping to commit ‘suicide by cop’

This story was orignally published in The State on July 4, 2003.

Josh Cutro said Thursday he wanted police to kill him after leading them Wednesday on a chase in which he was shot twice.

"I was hoping they would shoot me in the head," Cutro told The State newspaper while waiting for a bond hearing at Richland County jail.

Cutro, in a blue jail jumpsuit, wore a bloody gauze bandage over a gunshot wound on his upper left arm.

Cutro, 44, is married to Gail Cutro, who is serving a life prison sentence after she was convicted in 2000 of killing two babies in 1993 at the Cutros' Irmo day care. Josh Cutro testified for his wife and was a constant presence at her three Richland County trials.

Cutro said he hasn't spoken to his wife or children since his arrest last year in Lexington County on drug and weapons charges in two separate incidents.

Cutro told investigators he was hoping to "commit suicide by cop" by brandishing a large bowie-type knife at deputies at the end of Wednesday's chase, Sheriff Leon Lott said Thursday.

"I felt it was time for me to move on," Cutro told The State.

Deputy Jeffrey Smith, 38, shot Cutro in the upper left arm, after Cutro raised the knife "in a threatening manner," Lott said.

At the start of the chase, Deputy Kevin Isenhoward, 26, shot through the door of Cutro's Nissan Altima, grazing him in the left leg, Lott said.

Cutro hit Isenhoward and Deputy Trey Laffin, 28, with his car as he drove from the Western Inn and Suites on Bush River Road. Deputies were doing an undercover prostitution sting at the hotel, Lott said.

"We feel very confident the officers were justified in what they did," Lott said at a press conference Wednesday.

Lott said Cutro is a "dangerous individual," noting he had threatened a prosecutor.

Cutro was accused of threatening former Richland County prosecutor Johnny Gasser in 1997 on the steps of the S.C. Supreme Court during Gail Cutro's appeal; Gasser declined to press charges.

Josh Cutro fled about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday from the motel after trying to get a woman to sell cocaine for him, Lott said. The woman he tried to recruit was an undercover officer.

The chase ended about eight miles from the motel after Cutro's car went off Broad River Road near Kennerly Road, he said.

Speeds during the chase topped 100 mph, deputies said.

Deputies seized about 30 grams of crack cocaine, 30 Ecstasy pills and the suspected "date rape" drug GHB, Lott said.

Cutro, in interviews with The State, disagreed with some of what police have said.

"That was no crack; that was just the best cocaine around," he said.

He denied planning to have prostitutes sell drugs for him. He said he was at the motel visiting his brother.

Cutro, who weighs about 350 pounds, also denied he was trying to solicit prostitutes, saying, "I've got plenty of girlfriends."

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating. Fifth Circuit Solicitor Barney Giese in a prepared statement Thursday said his office will review the SLED report.

Richland County Magistrate Clevette Hudnell on Thursday denied bail for Cutro. Assistant Solicitor Vince Smith recommended no bail, saying Cutro was a flight risk and a "danger to the community."

Cutro's lawyer, Josh Kendrick, disputed Smith's statements and asked Hudnell to set a reasonable bail. "There's always two sides to a story," he said, although he declined afterward to elaborate.

Cutro, of 329 Broadleaf Drive, in the Oak Grove area east of Lexington, is charged with two counts of assault and battery with intent to kill, trafficking 28-100 grams of crack cocaine, possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy, and failure to stop for police blue lights.

He faces a maximum 73 years in prison if convicted of all the charges.

In a related matter, 11th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Dayton Riddle said Thursday his office will ask a judge to revoke bond for Cutro on drug and weapons charges in Lexington County.

Cutro was free on $70,000 bail on charges of selling Ecstasy to Lexington County narcotics officers in September.

In a separate case last August, Cutro was charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon after a man told police Cutro threatened him at a West Columbia bar.

A hearing on those cases is scheduled for later this month, Riddle said. He declined further comment.

Cutro has convictions for simple assault and malicious destruction of private property in 1976, and shoplifting in 1997 and 1998, SLED records show.

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