Hutchens sentenced to 64 years for murder, molestation of Grace Ross
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - Two months after the bench trial a sentence under a juvenile statue was handed down Friday to 16-year-old Anthony Hutchens who was found guilty of murdering and molesting six-year-old Grace Ross in the woods of New Carlisle back in 2021.
Judge Jeffrey Sanford sentencing the teen to 64 consecutive years —55 for the murder charge and nine for the child molestation charge.
However, that sentence suspended under an alternative statue for juveniles, meaning Hutchens will remain in a youth facility and be reevaluated by the judge again when he turns 18.
On Friday several witnesses took the stand in the sentencing hearing —including Dr. Michael Jenuwine who spent around 20 hours with Hutchens and performed multiple psychological evaluations on him.
He stated that he believed Hutchens’ diagnosis of autism, developmental delays and mental health issues play a role in his everyday functions and that right now he would benefit in a youth facility centered around rehabilitation.
Grace’s mother and her grandmother however pushing for the maximum adult prison time for Hutchens.
In an emotional plea before the judge Grace’s mother Michelle Ross describing her sweet, kind, and intelligent daughter that she said the defendant stole from her.
Grace will never have the chance to grow up…The loss of Grace has rocked my world, my family, friends, and the community as well…I believe the defendant should be sentenced to the full extent, he has shown no remorse throughout this process.
The defense however acknowledging this has been a tough case all around but they believe the judge made the right decision Friday.
“It’s a crime that was committed by a 14-year-old with a mental capacity of a 10 or 11-year-old. So 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,” said Jeff Kimmell, one of the Defense Attorneys for Anthony Hutchens.
During Friday’s sentencing hearing however, Prosecutor Christopher Fronk, who represented the state argued for the judge to make a final decision that day.
He pushed for an adult sentence of 67 years in prison for what he stated was a heinous and violent crime —saying it’s in the best interest of the community and Grace’s family.
Grace’s grandmother Kelli Howard also took the stand testifying with tears in her eyes.
Howard talked about what revisiting this trauma two years from now again would mean for her.
It makes me physically ill that his (Anthony’s) face was the last face she had to see before the angels took her…I have been in limbo for two years. I don’t know if I can make it for another two.
But with a sentence under an alternative juvenile statue ultimately determined on Friday, the defense giving insight into what’s next.
“Prior to his 19th birthday then they will have an actual formal review hearing depending on the outcome of that that will determine whether he will continue to be held up until the age of 21 at the youth service bureau at that point in time,” added Defense Attorney Andrea Beachkofsky.
That formal review will determine whether Hutchens will be sentenced to an adult facility, placed in community corrections or released from his sentence.
Hutchens has also been ordered to register as a violent sexual predator for life after he is released.
Kimmell also said they plan to still file an appeal for when Hutchens being waived up to adult court.