Bellefontaine mom’s murder trial pushed back again

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Another delay in trial of Bellefontaine mother

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Judge also dismisses defense’s request to throw out the possibility of the death penalty if Brittany Pilkington is convicted.

The trial of Bellefontaine mother Brittany Pilkington, who has been charged with aggravated murder in the death of her three sons, has been pushed back again at the request of her lawyers.

Following a hearing in Logan Common Pleas Court on Wednesday, the judge vacated the final pre-trial date set for February and rescheduled the next hearing for March 20. The trial was previously set to begin in early March.

No new dates for the trial, expected to last four weeks, have been set.

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Pilkington is accused of smothering her three young sons to death over a period of 13 months.

The now 24-year-old allegedly confessed to killing 3-month-old Niall Pilkington in July 2014, 4-year-old Gavin Pilkington in April of 2015 and 3-month-old Noah in August of 2015, authorities said.

She has pleaded not guilty to three counts of aggravated murder.

Earlier this month, Pilkington’s motion to dismiss the capital punishment portion of her charges also was denied.

Her lawyers had argued that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Hurst v. Florida, which found that Florida's death penalty sentencing practices were unconstitutional, called Ohio's death penalty laws into question.

But Judge Mark O’Connor cited multiple recent Ohio cases in which courts have found Ohio’s statutes constitutional and therefore denied the motion.

O’Connor will continue to proceed over the case as a visiting judge, despite the election of William Goslee as Logan County Common Pleas Court Judge.

Goslee was the Logan County prosecutor when charges were brought against Pilkington and in that capacity he made public statements about the case in the past.

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The online court docket now lists Goslee as the presiding judge in Pilkington’s case. But her attorney Kort Gatterdam said it’s his understanding that O’Connor will step in as visiting judge because of the possible conflicts with Goslee’s prior involvement in the case.

“Judge Goslee will not be on the case anymore,” he said. “Everyone knew when it went from Prosecutor Bill Goslee to Judge Bill Goslee that he wouldn’t be able to stay on the case.”

The Ohio Supreme Court has already assigned O’Connor as visiting judge, according to Goslee’s office. O’Connor presided over Wednesday’s hearing.

The judge issue was one reason Pilkington’s lawyers asked for trial extension, Gatterdam said.

Judges must disqualify themselves from cases for which they previously served as a lawyer, according to Ohio Judicial Code.

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