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Middletown mom pleads guilty to murder of 6-year-old son

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 9:24 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2021 at 11:49 AM EDT
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MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (FOX19) - A Middletown mother accused of killing her 6-year-old son and throwing the boy’s body in the Ohio River pleaded guilty Monday to his murder and two counts of felony endangering children.

Brittany Gosney, 29, now admits she murdered James Hutchinson in February when she abandoned him and his two young siblings, 9 and 7, at Rush Run Wild Life Area in Preble County.

Hutchinson, a first-grader, was dragged by her van trying to get back in.

A single tear rolled down Gosney’s face when she stood in Butler County Common Pleas Court as her rights were read to her. Other than that, she showed no emotion and said little besides “guilty” to one count of murder and two counts of endangering children.

A presentencing report was ordered, and she will learn her fate on Sept. 13.

Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said Gosney faces 15 years to life in prison. Final sentencing will be up to the judge.

According to the prosecutor, the death penalty did not apply in her case and said it was never an option.

According to the Preble County Sheriff’s Office, Gosney told investigators she was under pressure from her boyfriend, James Hamilton, to get rid of her children back on Feb. 26.

Gosney left the park after her van hit her son, but went back for the children about 30 or 40 minutes later, police have said.

She put them in the van and returned to their Middletown home.

That’s where prosecutors say Gosney and Hamilton put her son’s body in a spare room and left it there for 48 hours before driving to the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, court records show.

At some point, a concrete block was tied to the first grader’s body before they threw him into the water, prosecutors wrote in court documents.

>> 7 months later: Where the search for James Hutchinson’s body stands

Both Gosney and Hamilton, 43, were indicted earlier this year on a combined 31-count indictment.

Eighteen of the charges are related to allegations the children were hog-tied by the couple before or after Hutchinson’s murder.

Hutchinson and at least one of his siblings were tied up, according to court records.

Gmoser said two of the child endangering charges were for hog tying the older siblings with rags stuffed in their mouths for a long period of time.

The prosecutor’s office said the plea deal not only delivers some justice for Hutchinson, but it also saves his siblings.

“We have two living children who have already been through trauma that no child should ever experience and this guilty plea prevents them from going through further trauma, at least as it relates to a case against their mother,” explained Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Heile.

The sudden plea deal emerged when Gosney and Hamilton both returned to court Monday for separate reasons.

Gmoser said in statements Gosney referred to Hutchinson as “the kid.”

“She gave up the right to be called anything but a defendant in this office - not mom or mother,” he said.

Gosney was ruled competent to stand trial in April following a court-ordered mental evaluation. The evaluation was ordered after she initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Monday’s hearing was requested by her attorney. He recently filed court records saying the statements she made to detectives should be thrown out at trial because her rights were violated.

Hamilton still faces 15 charges including, kidnapping, gross abuse of a corpse, child endangering, tampering with evidence, and abduction.

He has pleaded not guilty and briefly appeared before the judge Monday for what was to be a preliminary hearing.

Now, Hamilton will return to court later this month.

At that point, it should be clear if he will take a plea deal, too, or if he will continue to dispute the allegations against him or proceed to trial on Oct. 4.

Gosney, whose trial was set for Sept. 20, returned after Monday’s hearing to the Butler County Jail. She’s been held there in lieu of a $2 million bond since her arrest in February.

Hamilton is held on a $750,000 bond.

A memorial fund, “James You are Loved,” was started to provide monetary support for his two siblings

How to donate:

  • Visit or send an e-check to any First Financial Bank Branch using the name “James You Are Loved Memorial Fund.”
  • Mail a physical check to Middletown City School District, One Donham Plaza, 4th Floor, Middletown, OH 45042 to the attention of “James You Are Loved Memorial Fund.”
  • Give online.

Searchers, meanwhile, have been unable to locate Hutchinson’s body in the Ohio River despite multiple tries.

James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson(Middletown Police)

Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson said Monday he was happy to see that Gosney is going to be held accountable for her actions.

“Hopefully, the sentencing will reflect the seriousness of the case and it’s my hope she goes to prison for the rest of her life,” the sheriff said.

He isn’t giving up hope they might receive information in the future that will result in James’ remains finally being recovered so first-grader can be laid to rest.

“Anytime we have information that would lead us to try to recover him, we are still going to do that. Each time that our dive team partners have been on the water, we have not come up with anything. It’s frustrating, but if we get information, credible information, hopefully, we will be able to recover James or Nylo for that fact. I’m sure that Cincinnati police are still working that case.”

Sheriff Simpson has included 3-year-old Nylo Lattimore in their searches.

Nylo has been the subject of numerous searches since his body was put in the Ohio River in December by his deceased mother’s boyfriend, Desean Brown, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has said.

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