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Middletown mother will not face death penalty after pleading guilty to son’s murder

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT
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MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WXIX) - The plea deal of a Middletown mother accused of killing her 6-year-old son and dumping his body in the Ohio River will not face the death penalty, according to the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office.

On Monday, 29-year-old Brittany Gosney pleaded guilty to the murder of her son, James Hutchinson, in February.

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

FOX19 NOW viewers have asked about the punishment given to Gosney.

Some wonder if she could face the death penalty.

The county prosecutor said that is not possible in this case.

“The death penalty was never an option, it was never something that could be considered,” Gmoser said.

FOX19 NOW Legal Analyst Mike Allen explains that under Ohio law, the facts of a case must fall under one of 10 specifications for the death penalty.

“Most people don’t realize that a prosecutor has to find what they call one of the specifications for the death penalty under Ohio Law,” said Allen. “If the facts don’t fall under one of those specifications, you can’t have the death penalty.”

Prosecutor Gmoser says nothing in Gosney’s case fit under the specifications that would warrant the death penalty.

Another concern viewers have brought up is the 13 charges that were dropped in exchange for Gosney’s guilty plea.

Allen said even through the trial process, not all of those charges would have stuck.

“Prosecutors have to make decisions based on what public perception will be, but what is actually good for the public,” Allen said.

Allen described a unique reality because many times elected officials are hired to do the will of the people, but that is not the case for prosecutors.

“Again, prosecutors are elected, so the reality is in many cases they do,” said Allen. “In this case, the plea deal, from what I can see, was completely appropriate for the prosecution and for the defendant as well.”

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

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