Teen found guilty in murder of Grace Ross
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The teen charged in the murder of a 6-year-old girl in New Carlisle has been found guilty.
Anthony Hutchens, 16, was found guilty of one count of murder and one count of child molesting in the March 2021 death of Grace Ross. The felony murder charge was dropped due to double jeopardy concerns.
The verdict came on Thursday afternoon after a two-day bench trial concluded on Tuesday. Hutchens was tried as an adult.
“I saw both sides of this. I saw Grace as my own child, and I also saw Anthony as being my own child and having to deal with talking and interviewing everybody on this whole thing and getting a better understanding of what was going on. Professionally, every case matters, every victim matters, but personally, I wanted to see that we found the right answer. Not just get an answer, we got the right answer,” said Mishawaka PD Detective, Timothy Wiley.
St. Joseph County Honorable Judge Jeffrey L. Sanford took less than five minutes to deliver the verdict. And while the prosecution was hesitant to speak for the family, they called the verdict a relief.
“When a child, someone who is a juvenile, still under the age of 18 is convicted of a crime as an adult, it opens up a lot of other possibilities that are not available when an adult is sentenced,” said Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Christopher Fronk.
Regardless of the possibilities, the sentencing for Murder is at least 45 years.
“One of the things that people are concerned about with a juvenile like Anthony is, is he going to go into one of the major prisons, and the answer is no. Nobody that’s that age and gets sent to the department of corrections even as an adult, goes right into the general population, that doesn’t happen,” Fronk said.
While the defense and both families declined to comment on the verdict, the defense shared at the hearing that they will be taking another look at Hutchen’s Psych evaluation, and prosecution says they will continue to push for an adult sentence.
" Up to this point, the presumption of innocence has been with the defendant, that is no longer there, on appeal, the presumption is that the court got it right, and we think the court did get it right. We’re grateful for the court’s decision and consideration on this matter, but we know that it’s not over yet, and that the sentencing is very important, and we continue to work toward that end,” Fronk said.
His sentencing is scheduled for March 31.
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