If accepted, appeal would add months to proceedings
Brittany Pilkington’s defense team intends to appeal a May 14 Third District Court of Appeals decision to the Ohio Supreme Court which further delays proceedings in the death penalty case.
Pilkington, 26, faces three counts of capital murder for allegedly killing her three sons over a 13-month period starting in July, 2014.
Her trial has been delayed while her attorneys appealed a 2017 order from presiding Logan County Common Pleas Judge Mark S. O’Connor to undergo a forensic evaluation by a psychiatrist chosen by Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart’s office.
Judge O’Connor’s ruling came when Pilkington’s team of Kort Gotterdam and Marc S. Triplett successfully argued that the judge should reconsider a November 2016, decision allowing prosecutors to use her recorded confession in trial.
Authorities say she admitted during the recorded hours-long interview that she smothered the boys as they slept, starting with infant Niall in July 2014 followed by Gavin, 4, on April 6, 2015 and infant Noah on Aug. 18, 2015.
Third district justices agreed with Judge O’Connor’s ruling to order a forensic psychological evaluation and Stewart was moving ahead to schedule it.
However, it is again on hold as Judge O’Connor granted a stay of the evaluation on May 29.
Pilkington’s team has until the end of June to file an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court.
Stewart’s office will then have 45 days to respond and it could be months before the justices decide whether or not to accept the case.
If the case is accepted, it could be another six months or more until justices set a hearing followed months later by a written decision.
Armed with affidavits from a neuropsychologist and a psychologist, Pilkington’s side asked the judge to reopen the suppression hearing in 2017.
They argued Pilkington’s brain damage and mental illness were so extensive that she could not fully comprehend the Bellefontaine Police Department interrogation she endured Aug. 18, 2015, the day Noah was found dead in the Pilkington apartment.
Judge O’Connor agreed to reopen arguments to suppress the confession, but also ordered the suspect to undergo evaluation by a forensic psychologist picked by prosecutors.
Pilkington’s side believes the judge’s order violates her constitutional rights against self-incrimination and access to legal counsel.
Stewart countered, stating Judge O’Connor properly and lawfully granted the prosecution’s request after the defense opened the issue of further evaluation by presenting their new reports.
Furthermore, an evaluation would not violate Pilkington’s right to counsel nor constitutional protections from self-incrimination, Stewart noted, as Judge O’Connor specifically prohibited any questions about the facts and circumstances of the boys’ deaths.
At this point, Pilkington is set to stand trial in January.
She has been in custody at the Logan County Jail since her Aug. 18, 2015, arrest.