Prosecution, defense rest in bench trial for teen accused of killing Grace Ross

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:49 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A New Carlisle family could be a couple days closer to achieving some sort of justice for the death of their daughter, 6-year-old Grace Ross, whose body was found in woods behind her apartment complex in March 2021.

Her accused killer, 16-year-old Anthony Hutchens, opted not to testify in his bench trial, in which the State of Indiana and Hutchens’ defense lawyer have now rested.

Hon. Jeffrey Sanford said he will publicly issue a written decision on Hutchens at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.

What DNA analysis revealed

St. Joseph County Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Fronk called his final two witnesses on Tuesday.

Shawn Stur, DNA analyst at the Indiana State Police Laboratory, said swabs taken from Grace’s pants found at the crime scene indicated there was a greater likelihood the DNA was a mix of the child’s and Anthony Hutchens’.

When Stur ran tests on genital swabs from the sexual assault kit, she testified Grace’s sample had “strong support” for it being a mix of her DNA and Hutchens’. The swab collected from Hutchens’ genitals showed it was very likely a mix of Hutchens and Grace Ross.

“Maybe he used my hands like my own.”

Fronk’s final witness, Mishawaka Police Detective Timothy Wiley confirmed Hutchens agreed to sit down for an interview with his mother in March 2021.

Fronk played the 90-minute recorded interview for the courtroom.

In the interview, Hutchens, who was 14 at the time, says he was blasting his music when Grace Ross had followed him into the woods, where he ultimately got lost.

When an officer told him “something pretty bad happened to [Grace],” Hutchens quickly became talkative, saying he saw a middle-aged Caucasian man by a barn, who was wearing a black suit that resembled something worn by “a guy who’s going to pull off a heist.”

Hutchens added: “I’ve heard those kind of suits can copy DNA.”

Later, his mother says: “Anthony, I can tell when you’re lying. You get that smirk on your face.”

Hutchens can be seen claiming he had been knocked out by the man in the woods, and that when Hutchens woke up, Grace was next to him, dead.

The man “used my hands to strangle her to death...maybe he used my hands like my own,” said Hutchens.

When pressed about possibly touching Grace anywhere else on her body, Hutchens replied: “All I know is the choking part.”

He told police the man “took control” of his body and mind.

“You say it’s fantasy, but he’s in my head, chanting things,” Hutchens added in the police interview.

Hutchens stated the man in the woods only chanted one word: kill.

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