Sentencing coming Tuesday for man who abused Middletown children and disposed of 6-year-old’s body: What we know

Sentencing for a Middletown man who abused a 6-year-old boy and disposed of his body in the Ohio River after his mother killed him is scheduled for Tuesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

James Hamilton, 43, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, two counts of child endangering and gross abuse of a corpse in connection with the abuse and death of James Hutchinson and abuse of his two siblings in February. He faces a maximum of 19 years in prison.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Brittany Gosney, 29, Hamilton’s girlfriend and Hutchinson’s mother, pleaded guilty to murder and two counts of felony child endangering for killing Hutchinson and abusing his siblings. She was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after 21 years on Sept. 13.

A hearing to determine if Hamilton will be required to register as a violent offender when released from prison will be held before the sentencing. Hamilton’s attorney, Jeremy Evans, argues Hamilton was the not the primary offender in the crimes and should not be required to register.

Hamilton admitted to hog-tying Hutchinson, putting a cloth in his mouth and leaving him. He also admitted to doing the same to Hutchinson’s siblings and throwing the 6-year-old’s body in the Ohio River on Feb. 28.

Gosney admitted to taking her three children to Rush Run Wildlife Area on Preble County during the early-morning hours of Feb. 26, then putting the trio out of the van. When James clung to the van, he was dragged and killed.

Police interrogation videos of Hamilton and Gosney show their stories changing from James being missing to the fact that he was dead. Gosney initially told detectives Hamilton was with her when they drove to Preble County and the boy was killed. She later said she was alone the the kids.

Hamilton, who was also initially charged with tampering with evidence, told detectives that he was not present when the boy died. He told them where to find a hard drive for a security system that he hid in a garage on Logan Street that he said proved Gosney returned carrying James, who was dead.

The evidence shows Gosney walking out the side door and getting into the Dodge Caravan parked in front of the Crawford Street residence at 3:16 a.m. on Feb. 26. The three children are in tow. James is easy to spot because he is wearing glasses. The children get in the back seat, and the van pulls away at about 3:19 a.m.

At about 4:53 a.m. the van pulls up in front of the residence. Gosney gets out of the van, hoists James, who is limp, against her chest and carries him through yard and into the side door of the house. James appears to be wearing one shoe. The two siblings follow their mother. One appears to be carrying James’ other shoe.

On Feb. 28 at 2:28 a.m., Gosney walks out of the home’s side door and pulls up her hood because it is snowing or raining. She walks to the side of the van and opens the back sliding door. Seconds later, Hamilton carries James’ body out, puts him in the van and quickly slams the door, and they drive off.

A sentencing memorandum is also part of court documents filed by Evans on Hamilton’s behalf that include statements from family members.

Hamilton’s 18-year-old step-daughter and wife wrote letters. Their names were redacted by the clerk of courts office, but the Journal-News has previously talked with Priscilla Hamilton, James’ wife.

In the letter, Hamilton’s step-daughter says he is a “great man” her.

“My biological father was never really a part of my life, but James stepped up and became the father I needed. To say that he never did anything bad to me is true, but it fails to show all of the amazing things he has done to support me. Phone visits are never enough. I just want to see him face to face, hug and kiss him, tell him how much I miss him, and introduce him to my baby that is on the way,” the step-daughter said in the letter.

Priscilla Hamilton said in the letter that she and Hamilton have been together for 17 years and married for nearly 12 years.

“My experience with James is he is a very kind, loving and caring man. He has raised my baby (his step-daughter) from six months old and never once has harmed her in any way. He was never forced to help with her, but was more than willing to do so anyway,” Priscilla Hamilton said in the letter.

She urged the judge to give Hamilton a fair sentence, “instead of what you think the community is demanding.”

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

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