Jody Back appeared in court Thursday

Middletown woman ruled incompetent for trial in murder-for-hire case

Jody Back, 49, of the 800 block of Fifth Avenue, was in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Thursday as Judge Greg Stephens considered the results of three court-ordered psychological evaluations before making the determination.

Back was arrested Sept. 28 by Middletown police and charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, a first-degree felony.

MORE: Second evaluation ordered for woman charged in murder for hire case

The results of the first evaluation indicated Back did not understand the court proceedings and was unable to assist her attorney with her defense, so she was unable to stand trial. A second evaluation conducted by a different forensic psychologist indicated Back was competent.

Stephens ordered a third evaluation. That evaluation said Back is able to understand the nature of the proceedings and is not capable of assisting in her own defense, so she is incompetent.

The judge indicated both doctors who said Back was not competent indicated she could be restored to competency with treatment within the amount of time required by law, which is one year.

Before making the ruling, Stephens said when considering these reports there must be some consideration that a person may be malingering or “faking” to get out of something.

Bond was set at $250,000 in Middletown Municipal court today for Jody Back, charged with conspiracy to commit murder. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

“I know one (psychologist) questioned whether or not the defendant was exaggerating the circumstances,” Stephens said. “Ms. Back, no offense, I don’t think you are good enough to malinger and fake out more than one professional.”

Back muttered “no” and shook her head.

Stephens said his take on the evaluations is Back has the ability to be competent and sometimes she is “with it and sometimes she is not.”

MORE: Alleged target of Middletown murder plot says she is afraid 

Back was ordered to be admitted to Summit Behavioral Healthcare facility in Cincinnati for treatment. A hearing was set to determine if she had been restored to competency on Feb. 10, 2020.

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 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. She is being held on a $250,000 bond.

MORE: FBI search of Liberty Twp home connected to stolen baby formula 

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