A 16-year-old Indiana male was sentenced to 64 years in prison for being convicted of molesting and killing a 6-year-old girl in the woods near her home in 2021.
On Friday morning, Judge Jeffrey Sanford sentenced 16-year-old Anthony Hutchens to 64 years in prison after he was convicted of heinous crimes. Sanford sentenced Hutchens to nine years in prison for the alleged molestation of the little girl as well as 55 years for the murder of 6-year-old Grace Ross. Hutchens will also have to register as a sex offender once he gets out of prison.
Sanford told the courtroom, “I can only speculate how sad Grace’s family feels,” and “I imagine Mr. Hutchens’ mother feels very alone in the courtroom.”
The judge added, “No matter what sentence I give today won’t ease everyone’s pain and won’t bring Grace back.”
Jeff Kimmell, Anthony Hutchens’ defense attorney, told the courtroom, “People change, especially juveniles, and people are capable of rehabilitation, so it was the right decision because that’s not something that just should be finalized while this child was at this particular age.”
Kimmell added, “Rather than make a decision today and sentence him to over 60 years in prison, a decision that could never be revisited, he sentenced him to the division of youth services, which doesn’t necessarily mean that Anthony is going to be released at any particular time, but it offers him the opportunity to receive treatment and services and for the judge to revisit the sentence at various points in the future.”
Grace’s mom, Michelle Ross, proclaimed, “My whole world tilted on its axis that day. For a long time, all I could see was that picture of her laying in the woods.”
After her family reported her missing, Grace Ross was found dead around 6:30 p.m. on March 12, 2021. The young girl was found in a wooded area. The autopsy report concluded that Grace died from homicide by asphyxiation.
Hutchens is underage and will reportedly be held at a juvenile detention facility for the next few years.
Hutchens was 14 years old when he reportedly committed the brutal molestation and murder of the young girl. The defense argued that Hutchens had the developmental capacity of an 11-year-old.
The South Bend Tribune reported, “Once Anthony turns 18, the juvenile facility will send Sanford a report on Anthony’s time there. Sanford will then decide whether Anthony should remain at the juvenile facility until up to his 21st birthday, to sentence Anthony to an adult facility, to place him in community corrections or to discharge him from his sentence.”
Det. Wiley told WSB-TV, “Professionally, every case matters. Every victim matters. But personally, I wanted to see that we found the right answer, not just got an answer We got the right answer and that’s what I feel happened.”
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