Attorney: Middletown woman’s statements in court for son’s death caused question of sanity

The attorney for a Middletown mother charged with killing her 6-year-old son and disposing of his body in the Ohio River says he has concerns about the woman’s mental health and her ability to assist in her defense.

Brittany Gosney, 29, and her boyfriend, James Hamilton, 43, were indicted March 5 and arraigned last week in Butler County Common Pleas Court on a combined 31-count indictment for the slaying of 6-year-old James Hutchinson on Feb. 26 in rural Preble County and the disposal of his body days later in the Ohio River.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Court-appointed attorneys David Washington for Gosney and Jeremy Evans for Hamilton entered not guilty pleas on behalf of the defendants, and Judge Noah Powers II set bond at $2 million for Gosney and $750,000 for Hamilton.

ExploreTimeline: How the murder case of Middletown 6-year-old James Hutchinson unfolded

But Gosney’s plea could change to not guilty by reason of insanity in future hearings, according to Washington.

Washington filed a motion Wednesday indicating his intention to pursue a not guilty by reason of insanity plea and a question of competency for Gosney to stand trial.

“(Gosney) struggles to assist in her defense and counsel has serious concerns regarding defendant’s mental health,” Washington wrote in the brief motion.

Washington told the Journal-News he is concerned about Gosney’s mental health and her circumstances at the time “the alleged offenses occurred, that is the (not guilty by reason of insanity plea).”

He added that the competency question is based primarily on the statement she made at arraignment in Middletown Municipal Court on March 1.

“I have a learning disability ... I don’t understand what you’re saying,” Gosney told Judge James Sherron when he read the charges against her and asked if she wanted an court-appointed attorney.

Washington said he expects the plea to be addressed Monday in a scheduled pre-trial hearing.

Law enforcement and search and rescue teams have continued to search the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Ind., for the boy’s body, but as of Wednesday afternoon it had not been recovered.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Hamilton is also scheduled to be back in court Monday for pretrial hearing.

Middletown police say Gosney confessed to killing James Hutchinson, a first-grader at Rosa Parks Elementary, as he clung to her minivan when she attempted to abandon him and his two siblings at Rush Run Wild Life Area.

Gosney and Hamilton put Hutchinson’s body in a spare room under a window at their Crawford Street home, they told police. At about 3 a.m. on Feb. 28, they drove down Interstate 275 in the van to the Lawrenceburg, Indiana, area and threw the body into the Ohio River, according to police.

Gosney and Hamilton are facing felony crimes against all three children, including murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse and endangering children for Gosney and kidnapping, gross abuse of a corpse, kidnapping and endangering children for Hamilton.

According to the Preble County Sheriff’s Office report, Gosney said she was under pressure from Hamilton to get rid of Hutchinson and his two siblings, ages 9 and 7. The 29-year-old mother drove the three children in a 2005 Dodge Caravan to Rush Run to abandon them.

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