MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — A Middletown woman and her boyfriend accused in the death and disposal of her son were arraigned Monday in Butler County Common Pleas Court, and despite outrage expressed by the community, the death penalty will not be possible in the prosecution of the alleged crimes.
According to the Journal-News, court-appointed attorneys entered not guilty pleas on behalf of Brittany Gosney and James Hamilton in Judge Noah Powers’ courtroom. Bond was set at $2 million for Gosney and $750,000 for Hamilton.
Because the duo did not waive their rights to a speedy trial, a tentative trial date was set for May 24. They are due back in court March 22 for a pretrial hearing.
It has not yet been determined if Gosney and Hamilton can be tried together.
Emotions and community outrage have run high in the past week since Middletown police announced the arrest of Gosney for allegedly 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 in Preble County.
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, 29 and Hamilton, 42, were indicted Friday by a Butler County grand jury on 31 combined alleged 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.
But the indicted charges against Gosney do not carry the possibility of the death penalty if convicted. Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the evidence does not meet the specifications defined by law for a death penalty case.
“Maybe she thought the wolves would get them (when Gosney abandoned the children in Rush Run Wild Life area in Preble County), but her conduct in the death of this boy was reckless when she hit him with the car, which is a felony,” Gmoser said.
Her actions as accused do not “constitute aggravated murder, and you can not have a death penalty without aggravated murder,” he said.
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. Prosecutors believe that happened on Friday, Feb. 26.
Gosney chose the rural location because she and Hamilton had taken the kids fishing there, according to the Preble County Sheriff’s report.
But according to police statements released last week, there is no indication that Gosney said she planned to kill James when she drove them to Preble County.
The county has one death penalty case pending. Gurpreet Singh, 38, is charged with four counts of aggravated murder in the April 28, 2019, homicides of four family members in West Chester Twp. With specifications of using a firearm and killing two or more persons, Singh faces the death penalty if convicted.
Singh is accused of killing his wife, Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; his in-laws, Hakikat Singh Pannag, 59, and Parmjit Kaur, 62; and his aunt by marriage, Amarjit Kaur, 58, at their residence on Wyndtree Drive. All died of gunshot wounds. One victim was shot while sleeping.
The crimes Singh is accused of meet the death penalty standards because more then one person was killed and the evidence shows the murders were purposeful and took prior planning, officials said.
Crews were not able to search the Ohio River on most days last week for Hutchinson’s body because of the river’s high level, but they were able to search Sunday. They did not find the boy’s body.