Caseworkers found Pilkington engaged in her family life

Case workers from Logan County Children’s Services recounted in court Wednesday numerous interactions with Brittany Pilkington during which she answered questions appropriately and appeared to understand a myriad number of complex issues both as a potential victim and parent.

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Brittany Pilkington enters the Logan County Common Pleas courtroom Wednesday for the second day of testimony in a reopened suppression hearing. (EXAMINER PHOTO | JOEL E. MAST)

It was part of the prosecution’s efforts to show that Pilkington is and has been fully capable to understand her constitutional rights against self-incrimination. 

Testimony from Megan Christensen, Aiden Comstock and McKenzie Bumgarner contrasted starkly with the defense teams’ portrayal of Pilkington as a compliant, easily manipulated person due to her impaired cognitive abilities, brain damage and years of abuse.

Presiding Logan County Common Pleas Judge Mark S. O’Connor has reopened a 2016 suppression hearing to determine if a confession Pilkington gave Aug. 18, 2015, should be admitted as evidence in her capital murder trial slated to start March 18.

Pilkington, 25, is accused of killing her three sons during a 13-month period starting in July 2014.

Authorities say she admitted during the recorded hours-long interview that she smothered the boys as they slept, starting with infant Niall July 22, 2014, followed by Gavin, 4, on April 6, 2015, and infant Noah on Aug. 18, 2015.

If convicted, she could face a sentence of death. 

Her case has been on hold as arguments about this phase of the reopened suppression hearing have moved through the Third District Court of Appeals and to the Ohio Supreme Court. The high court agreed with O’Connor’s order that Pilkington undergo a psychological evaluation by a clinician chosen by Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart.

Pilkington’s team of Kort Gotterdam, Marc Triplett and Tina McFall have presented affidavits and testimony from psychologist Dr. Howard Fradkin and neuropsychologist Dr. Jeffrey D. Madden that Pilkington’s 2015 confession was not voluntary because of her brain damage; history of physical, emotional and sexual abuse; and mental illness.

During Wednesday’s proceedings, Comstock’s testimony was compelling.

She is a child welfare investigator and was assigned on May 15, 2015, to remove Noah and his sister, Hayley, from the custody of Pilkington and her husband at the time, Joe Pilkington.

Pilkington had given birth to Noah and was at Lima Memorial Hospital. Comstock told her about an emergency custody order from the Logan County Family Court which seemed to confuse Pilkington.

But, Comstock said, “When I told her that Noah and Hayley would not be going home with her, she put her hands over her eyes and started bawling.”

Read complete story in Thursday's Examiner
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