Day Two: Trial for teen accused of killing Grace Ross includes video evidence, DNA expert

Day Two: Trial for teen accused of killing Grace Ross includes video evidence, DNA expert

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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind., --- The second and final day of the Grace Ross Murder trial included a chilling 90-minute video played, showing an interview between the teenage defendant Anthony Hutchens and detectives the same day Grace was killed. It also included testimony about DNA evidence found in the case.

Emotions ran high again in the courtroom for both the victim and suspect's families on day two of witness testimony where 16-year-old Anthony Hutchens, accused of murdering and molesting Grace Ross nearly two years ago in New Carlisle is being tried as an adult.

On Tuesday Judge Jeffrey Sanford heard from investigators, a DNA expert, and Anthony Hutchens himself, whose videotaped interview with police was played in court showing the teen--diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder---describing the "shadow man" he claims forced him to strangle the six-year-old in the woods near their apartment complex in March of 2021.

The state called two more witnesses to the stand; investigator Timothy Wiley who was a South Bend Police Officer working as a detective for the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide unit at the time and forensic DNA analyst, Shawn Stur with the Indiana State Laboratory who tested Grace’s body and clothing as well as Hutchens.

Stur testified the samples found Hutchens’ DNA on Grace’s body including in her genitals.

She also said she found evidence showing Grace’s DNA inside Hutchens’ underwear.

But it was the 90-minute video of Hutchens himself that gripped the courtroom on Tuesday.

It showed the interview between Detective Wiley, another investigator, Hutchens, and his mom; the day Grace’s body was found partially naked in the woods of new Carlisle.

When asked by detectives what happened Hutchens told them he was listening to music in his ear when Grace followed him into the woods and then he lost her track of her.

He first told detectives that they were alone in the woods then later he said he saw a shadow male figure behind a tree.

When pressed about whether he touched or hurt Grace in anyway or if his DNA could be found on her body, Hutchens didn’t admit to molesting her, but kept repeating that he believed that shadowy figure was physically in the woods as well as in his head at the time.

He first said the shadow man knocked him out and then later said the figure took control of his body—taking his hands and putting them on Grace’s neck saying he woke up and she was already dead. 

“He took control of me. I don’t know how he did it or when he did it. I just know he did. It feels like he’s still in my head.”

He also said the shadow figure was a sick man that wanted to harm Grace.

When detectives told Hutchens the shadow figure was fantasy and asked him if something like this has ever happened to him before Hutchens said,

“Not that I can remember. He took control of my body. I woke up and she was dead. That’s about all I know.”

Hutchens’ head remained down as the video played in the courtroom Tuesday, while his mother held a tissue as she wiped away tears and Grace’s mother watched teary-eyed.

After the video evidence played both the prosecution and defense rested their cases, with the defense calling no witnesses and Hutchens choosing not to testify in his trial.

Indiana University law professor Jody Madeira told ABC57 news Tuesday "not" putting Hutchens on the witness stand was likely the right call.

“It's very uncommon actually to put a criminal defendant on the stand particularly one that might have mental health issues and so I think what they're trying to do is minimize the collateral damage,” explained Madeira.

The judge already plans to announce his decision on Thursday which Madiera believes could mean his mind is already made up.

"Knowing the evidence in this case, I think that there is very little doubt in the judge's mind what side he's going to come down on and I think at this point it's making sure that the sentence is one rendered in the best interests of the criminal suspect as well as society to protect social safety and things like that to make sure there's accountability,” she added.

Judge Sanford plans to announce a decision on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in superior court.

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