Middletown woman gets prison sentence in murder-for-hire plot

A Middletown woman who was charged with plotting to kill an acquaintance in 2018 has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after months of treatment and questions about her mental health.

Jody Back, 51, formerly of the 800 block of Fifth Avenue, was arrested in September 2018 by Middletown police and charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, a first-degree felony. Last week, Back pleaded guilty to attempted conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, a second-degree felony.

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Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens sentenced Back to two years in prison on Monday. She faced that maximum of eight years.

In February 2019, after declaring Back incompetent to stand trial, Stephens sent Back to Summit Behavioral Healthcare facility in Cincinnati for treatment.

In August, Stephens received a report from doctors stating she was competent and could assist attorneys with her defense. But defense attorneys again raised questions about Back’s mental health while preparing her case and requested further forensic evaluation.

Another evaluation was granted. The judge determined that the second evaluation indicated Back was competent to stand trial with “maintenance” in a mental health treatment program.

“The doctor does have the opinion she is competent to stand trial, but there are concerns about maintaining a proper maintenance plan to keep her competent through trial,” Stephens said.

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A new trial date was set to begin Tuesday, but Back took the plea deal.

Middletown police say Back wanted the alleged intended target out of the way so she could leave the country with her daughter. Back met with a confidential informant on Sept. 26, 27 and 28, 2018 to negotiate a monetary deal to have another woman killed, according to court records obtained by the Journal-News. Back provided an address for the woman and a time frame to have her killed.

The confidential informant contacted police on Sept. 26 and told them that Back was trying to hire someone to kill the woman, according to detectives

The informant indicated the agreed amount was $5,000, but Back said she could not afford the price. That is when there was an agreement to turn over a house she owns on Yankee Road to the informant.

While Back was under surveillance by the police department, she went into a local credit union and signed over the house to the informant. Back was arrested shortly after.

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