Saturday, March 02, 2002

Angry mother escapes charge

She shot man in the groin

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A grand jury Friday declined to indict a 40-year-old Covington mother for shooting an accused child-molester in the groin.

        “It is like the world has been lifted off my shoulder,” said Jaymie Hutchins, who admitted to shooting Larry Eugene Howell, the man she believed molested her teen-age son.

        Ms. Hutchins, an IRS secretary, had faced a possible first-degree assault charge.

        “I thank everyone from the heart for their support and donations,” she said.

        The prosecutor called in to handle the case said the grand jury's decision was disappointing, and it gave Ms. Hutchins a “free pass” for the Nov. 27 shooting.

        “It's a bad decision on the grand jury's part because it promotes the idea that citizens can take the law in their own hands,” said Louisville Prosecutor David Schuler. “We don't know if Mr. Howell is guilty of what he was accused of doing to her son.”

        Ms. Hutchins is accused of shooting Mr. Howell, 40, of Erlanger, a former carnival worker. Ms. Hutchins, who has a concealed-carry permit, shot Mr. Howell once in the groin and once in the side while arguing in her van, which was parked in a drugstore parking lot near the Covington police station. He spent several weeks in the hospital but has recovered.

        Ms. Hutchins, who told the Enquirer the morning after the shooting that she “shot him where it counts so he wouldn't hurt any more kids,” said she was looking forward to getting back to her job and getting her gun back.

        Mr. Howell is being held at the Kenton County Detention Center in lieu of $250,000 cash bail, charged with nine counts of sodomy. Investigators say Mr. Howell, a convicted felon, had improper sexual contact with at least 30 boys, including one from Cincinnati.

        Mr. Howell has denied his guilt in court appearances. His attorney, public defender Mike Williams, could not be reached Friday afternoon for comment.

        Because Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Bill Crockett will be prosecuting Mr. Howell on molestation charges, he did not handle Ms. Hutchins' case. It is possible she will be called by Mr. Crockett to testify against the man she shot.

        Mr. Schuler gave grand jury members two options. They could have indicted Ms. Hutchins on the first-degree assault charge with a punishment upon conviction of 10-20 years in prison. Or, on the same charge, they could have found that she acted under extreme emotional duress, which reduces the penalty to 1-5 years.

        Ms. Hutchins did not testify before the grand jury, which consisted of 12 Kenton County residents. Mr. Schuler said he did not know how many of the nine women jurors were mothers. Unlike a jury trial, attorneys do not have a say in the selection of a grand jury.

        Anonymous donors paid for Ms. Hutchins' defense.

        The mother of five said the ordeal has strained her family. Ms. Hutchins was suspended from her job as a secretary at the IRS, and her husband is unable to work because of a disability.

        “I was cooking, wondering where I would get money to buy our next meal, when I heard the news,” she said. “I thank everyone from the heart for their support and donations. We have counted pennies to put gas in the van, and we have run out of them.”


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