Anthony Hutchens found guilty in murder, molestation of Grace Ross

NOW: Anthony Hutchens found guilty in murder, molestation of Grace Ross

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - Anthony Hutchens, the teenager accused of molesting and murdering six-year-old Grace Ross in 2021, was found guilty by a judge on Thursday.

Hutchens was originally charged with murder, felony murder, and child molesting.

The court dismissed his felony murder charge for double jeopardy concerns.

Hutchens, who is now 16 years old but was 14 at the time of the crime, was tried as an adult.

“The judge's decision while not a surprise is a relief for the family and for the state,” said Christopher Fronk, the Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in the trial.

After just a two-day bench trial 16-year-old Hutchens was found guilty in superior court.

On Tuesday, the court watched a 90-minute video of detectives interviewing Hutchens the same day Ross was killed.

During the interview, Hutchens said a shadowy figure knocked him out and then took control of his body, putting his hands on Ross's neck, according to reports.

Hutchens said when he woke up, Ross was already dead, according to reports.

“To the question of what happened has really been fleshed out and the judge has ruled it beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant is guilty of murder and child molesting as counts one and three were charged,” said Fronk.

In the emotional two-day trial nine witnesses were called by the state including Grace's stepfather at the time, a nine-year-old friend who was playing with Grace the day she was murdered and Timothy Wiley, a St. Joseph County Metro Homicide detective at the time who interviewed Hutchens for hours the night Grace was found partially naked in the woods of New Carlisle.

“I saw Grace as being my own child and I also saw Anthony as being my own child,” said Detective Timothy Wiley, who worked for SJC Metro Homicide in March 2021. "Professionally every case matter, every victim matters but personally I wanted to see that we found the right answer, not just get an answer but we got the right answer and that’s what I feel happened.”

The defense however calling no witnesses with hardly any cross examination, but on Thursday they asked the judge to have a psychologist to assist in the sentencing process.

While Grace’s family and the state were satisfied with Thursday’s verdict, prosecutor Fronk said this is only half the battle.

“They’re relieved that this page has been turned and they’re relieved at the result at this point sentencing is also a very big part of this,” said Fronk.

“The judge in this case could elect to sentence Anthony as juvenile or he could just proceed and sentence Anthony as an adult because he’s been waived to adult court, but the options are much broader, and I think it would be reckless not to prepare for every one of those options."

Hutchens will be sentenced on March 31.

The teen could still be sentenced as a juvenile, but if charged as an adult, the sentencing range for murder is 45 to 65 years.

The sentencing range for child molesting is three to 16 years.

Share this article: