South Bend, Indiana: 15-year-old Anthony Hutchens will undergo psychological examination to determine whether or not the teen is competent to stand trial.
Judge Jeffrey Sanford ruled Tuesday, May 31 in St. Joseph Superior Court which will allow for two doctors from the Komomo area to evaluate Hutchens and submit their findings to the court.
Hutchens' attorneys have sought to have their client declared legally insane at the time he is accused of murdering 6-year-old Grace Ross.
On March 12, 2021 at about 6:30 pm, Grace was reported missing in New Carlisle, Indiana. Two hours later, her body was recovered from a wooded area behind where she lived.
An autopsy revealed that her death was a homicide caused by asphyxiation.
After Grace's body was found, Hutchens' mother brought him to police. With his mother present, he spoke with police.
Hutchens reportedly gave several conflicting statements to police including that Grace had followed him into the woods where he lost track of her and saw another person in the area.
Then Hutchens added that the unknown man had knocked him unconscious and he woke next to Grace's body.
Eventually though, he told officers that he had been controlled by "a shadowy man" that forced him to strangle Grace with his hands. He told officers that he knew she was dead because he had checked for a pulse and felt her soul/spirit leave her body.
Hutchens then returned home where he hid the dirty clothes and showered.
Hutchens was taken into custody that day and initially charged with murder and molestation as a juvenile. He was initially held at the St. Joseph County Jail but has since been transferred to the Robert J. Kinsey Youth Center in Kokomo.
Since the initial charges were filed, his case was moved into the adult court system where he has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of child molestation.
During proceedings at the Juvenile level Hutchens' competency was brought into question. Proceedings there were delayed according to the South Bend Tribune, in order to allow for psychological evaluations.
Despite statements from his mother that Hutchens was on the Autism spectrum, had ADHD, a sensory disorder, and was "very immature for his age," the parties involved in the case reportedly agreed that he was competent to stand trial without the need for a hearing.
The reason given for the move to the adult court system by St. Joseph Probate Court Magistrate Graham Polando was that if Hutchens remained in either the juvenile or probate court systems, the possible sentenced if convicted were too lenient for the crime.
The new psychological evaluations will be conducted by one psychologist and one psychiatrist. The reports are expected to be back to the court by mid-August.