A Colorado Springs couple accused of killing their 11-year-old son by forcing him to drink large amounts of water turned themselves in to the El Paso County Jail June 16.

Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Sabin, 41, and Tara Sabin, 42, face charges of first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death and six counts of misdemeanor child abuse after their son, Zachary Sabin, was found dead in a urine-soaked diaper earlier this spring, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sabins were are being held without bail at the El Paso County jail, according to jail records.

Zachary Sabin, 11, died in Black Forest on March 11. He was a fifth-grade student at Explorer Elementary School in Colorado Springs, according to his obituary.

Ryan was his father, and Tara his stepmother, according to the obituary.

Warrants for the couple’s arrest were issued the morning of June 16 and they turned themselves in that night, according to the sheriff’s office.

Zachary died of forced water intoxication, the El Paso County Coroner’s Office concluded, after he was forced to drink four 24-ounce bottles of water over a four-hour time period, without eating. He began vomiting, developed pain in his legs, and became nonverbal and drowsy before he was put to bed, the autopsy stated.

He was later found dead, wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajama top and a urine-soaked diaper, with foam coming from his mouth, the autopsy said.

The coroner found blood on his left eyebrow and forehead, according to the report. The 11-year-old also had bruises on his head, arms, shin and buttocks.

The sheriff’s office wouldn’t comment on whether the boy had special needs that required the wearing of a diaper, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Jacqueline said Wednesday.

Information on Zachary’s death was not released prior to June 16 because it sometimes “takes us months to finish an investigation to determine if criminal charges need to be filed,” Kirby said.

Zachary was an avid reader who could zip through a book series in a week, his mother, Angela Tuetken, said. Harry Potter was one of her son’s favorites series, she added.

“It would blow my mind, he could out-read me,” Tuetken said.

He enjoyed being outside, loved animals and aspired to be a veterinarian or zoologist, she said.

“He hadn’t changed his mind on that since he was little,” she said. “That kid was very adamant, he knew what he was going to do,” she said, recalling her son staring at ladybugs when he was younger.

“He was a very gentle soul,” the boy’s mother said.

Zachary and his brother, Mythias, switched between their mother’s and father’s houses every other week since their parents’ divorce in 2011, Tuetken said. Zachary also had four half-siblings and four step-siblings.

“He was really good with the little ones. He would always make sure they were safe, play with them a lot, help them get their shoes on,” she said.

On car rides, he would buckle his younger siblings in, sit between them and make sure they had their snacks, she said.

She declined to comment on her ex-husband’s arrest.

Ryan Sabin is a public affairs sergeant at Fort Carson who has served 18 years in the military, according to post officials. He earned the Army Commendation Medal four times and has served in Iraq and Kosovo.

Tara Sabin appears to have worked as the chief financial officer for TESSA, a nonprofit that helps self-identified victims of domestic violence, according to a June 12 cached version of the organization’s website. She has worked for multiple nonprofits and was excited to “use her knowledge and skills to make a difference in the lives of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault,” according to her biography on the cached website.

A call to the organization was not immediately returned.

The website of Altruistic Advisors, a Michigan-based business that offers accounting services to nonprofits, lists Tara Sabin as a nonprofit accounting specialist. A business number lists her in its phone directory. Her biography on its website states that she lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and six children.

A call to the organization was not immediately returned.

A cached version of the website of the American Advertising Federation’s Colorado Springs chapter from June 10 lists Tara Sabin as its executive director. Her biography on the cached website states that she is the vice president of finance at Early Connections Learning Centers, a nonprofit childcare organization in Colorado Springs.

Neither organization immediately responded to requests for comment.

Contact the writers: Erin Prater, 476-1670; Olivia Prentzel, 636-0362

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