HAMILTON, Ohio — Lewis "Eddie" Hutchinson, the father of 6-year-old James, who was murdered in February, sat in a Butler County court for the first time Tuesday.
Hutchinson was in the court room as James Hamilton was sentenced to a minimum 15 years in prison on Tuesday for his role in James' death and the cover-up.
Hamilton helped Brittany Gosney, the boy's mother, dispose of his body in the Ohio River near Lawrenceburg, Ind., after his murder in February.
"Eddie is happy with the sentencing, the family is happy for the sentencing," said Kathryn Lundy, a Hutchinson family friend. "We ask that everyone keep thoughts and prayers for the remaining children."
Gosney hog-tied two of Hutchinson's siblings, then attempted to abandon them in Rush Run Wildlife Area in Preble County along with Hutchinson.
Hutchinson died while trying to hang on to Gosney's minivan as she sped away.
"He didn't murder those two survivors, but if you want to speak philosophically about it, he probably murdered their soul," Butler County prosecutor Michael Gmoser said.
Hamilton admitted to helping Gosney get rid of Hutchinson's body later in the river after they brought him home with the other kids, telling an officer a brick was tied to Hutchinson's chest.
Hamilton spoke in court moments before learning his sentence.
"I'm terribly sorry for what happened to all three children," Hamilton said. "And I’m very sorry for the part I played in that night. I didn’t feel like I could interfere with her parenting, but if I could go back and do it all over again, I would have untied him.”
Hutchinson's body still hasn't been found.
"The Ohio River is now a huge unmarked grave that nobody can go visit," Lundy said. "We hope that James can be found so that we can have a proper resting area for him."
Gosney pleaded guilty to one count of murder and two counts of endangering children in August. She was given a life sentence in September, with the possibility of parole after 21 years.
Hutchinson's death was tragic for the Middletown community. Staffers from Rosa Parks Elementary School, where he was a first-grader, attended Gosney's sentencing, as well as officers who had worked on his case. Donations were collected to build a memorial bench for Hutchinson at Rosa Parks.
Middletown Police Chief David Birk said the case had taken a toll on the department, with one of the detectives on the case returning to patrol duty because of the difficult nature of the case.
"Going through what happened here, it was the straw that broke the camel's back," Birk said in August. "It really takes its toll on officers."