Man pleads guilty to abusing Middletown children and disposal of 6-year-old’s body

He faces maximum of 19 years in prison for plea to role in abuse and death of boy in February.

A Middletown man charged with abusing a 6-year-old boy and disposing of his body in the Ohio River after his mother killed him was in Butler County Common Pleas Court and pleaded guilty today after a legal glitch delayed the hearing 24 hours.

James Hamilton stood before Judge Noah Powers II and said guilty to kidnapping, two counts of child endangering and gross abuse of a corpse in connection with the abuse and death of 6-year-old James Hutchinson in February. He faces a maximum of 19 years in prison. Powers set Oct. 4 for sentencing.

The hearing was scheduled for Monday, but it was continued by the judge after questions were raised over the requirement of Hamilton after his release from prison.

The sticking point was to be a new law requiring Hamilton to register as a violent offender as part of the plea but exceptions apply if he is not the principal offender. That will be part of the sentencing hearing.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The plea hearing came a week after Brittany Gosney, Hamilton’s girlfriend, pleaded to murder and two counts of felony child endangering for killing Hutchinson and abusing his sibling.

Hamilton’s wife, Priscilla Hamilton, and his 18-year-old step-daughter cried as the pleas were entered. Priscilla Hamilton said her husband is not a monster.

She said Hutchinson’s father is her brother and he and Gosney were living with her for a while before they started living in area hotels.

“I have been married to him almost 12 years, been with him almost 17 years. My baby was 6 months old when we got together, he never once harmed her,” Priscilla Hamilton said.

Priscilla Hamilton said she and her husband have had some rough patches and Gosney has a hold over him, not the opposite. She caught her husband texting with Gosney, “I nipped it in the bud. But as far as being abuse, no.”

“You make him out to be the bad guy. I don’t believe he wanted her to get rid of the kids,” she said. “He did wrong, he should have called the police when she (Gosney) came home with him (Hutchinson) dead. But I can’t believe he would harm the kids.”

Hamilton admitted to hog tying Hutchinson, putting a cloth in his mouth and leaving him. He also admitted to doing the same to his siblings then throwing the 6-year-old’s body in the Ohio River.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said after the hearing the family is welcome to their opinion and so is he.

“It happened because of evil in the hearts of defendant Gosney and defendant Hamilton,” Gmoser said. “He did monstrous things to little Jimmy.”

Gosney, 29, and Hamilton, 43, were indicted in March on a combined 31-count indictment for the slaying of Hutchinson on Feb. 26 in rural Preble County and the disposal of his body days later in the river near Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

Gosney faces a mandatory maximum of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years and a maximum of 36 months each for the child endangering charges. Her sentencing is set for Sept. 13.

Gosney admitted to charges related to the torture and hog-tying of Hutchinson’s two older siblings. The murder charge states Hutchinson died as a result of child endangering when Gosney tried to abandon her three children and recklessly caused the death of the boy before bringing his body back to the Crawford Street residence she shared with Hamilton.

Gosney confessed to killing Hutchinson, a first-grader at Rosa Parks Elementary School, who died after he clung to her minivan as she sped off while attempting 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 minivan to the Lawrenceburg area and threw the boy’s body into the Ohio River, according to police.

Hutchinson’s body was left in the house for almost 48 hours, and a concrete block was tied to his body before it was tossed in the river, according to court documents. Hutchinson’s body has not been found despite several searches in the water and along the banks of the river.

Gosney said she was under pressure from Hamilton to get rid of Hutchinson and his two siblings, according to authorities.

Hutchinson’s body has not been found but dive teams continue efforts when the water is safe to do so.

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