Jessica Edwards’ husband a no present for court docket date on South Windsor homicide cost
SOUTH WINDSOR — The attorney for the local man who recently had his charged upped to murder in the May 2021 death of Jessica Edwards said he has concerns about his client’s mental health after the man didn’t appear for his remote hearing scheduled for Monday morning.
Tahj Hutchinson, who remains in custody at the Cheshire Correctional Institution on a $1.5 million bond on charges of murder, risk of injury to a child and tampering with physical evidence, was expected to appear before Judge Hope Seeley during a remote hearing at 11:30 a.m on Monday.
Seeley said the hearing was to give Hutchinson a chance to decide if he wanted to ask the court for a probable cause hearing, or to enter a plea for the charges. Hutchinson initially faced a manslaughter offense, which was upgraded to murder in December 2021.
The screen with Hutchinson’s name labeled at the bottom remained empty for most of the roughly 30-minute proceeding. Hutchinson never showed up. By 11:40 am, the judge asked the clerk to call the correctional institution to see what the hold up was.
Shortly before noon, a Department of Correction worker appeared on Hutchinson’s screen to give the judge an update, saying Hutchinson was aware of the court hearing.
“The man is still in his cell,” the DOC employee said. “He says he’s coming and he’s getting ready but that’s where we’re at now. He says he’s coming but he is still in his cell.”
Ultimately, the judge, citing the time as about 11:49 am, asked Hutchinson’s attorney and the prosecutor if they wanted to reschedule. The each agreed.
Damian Tucker, the public defender representing Hutchinson, classified his client’s behavior as unusual.
“This is rather surprising in regards to my experience with Mr. Hutchinson,” Tucker said, adding that he had concerns about some potential mental health struggles.
Tucker, prosecutor Robert Diaz and Seeley decided on 2 pm Wednesday in Hartford for an in-person attempt at Monday’s missed hearing.
Hutchinson has been in custody since his arrest on May 21, 2021, following Edwards’ death 11 days earlier.
When speaking with investigators on one of many occasions during the law enforcement investigation into Edwards’ disappearance, Hutchinson confessed that he killed Edwards after when a weekend of arguing got physical, according to his arrest affidavit.
The document said Hutchinson told investigators he left Edwards’ body in their condo for hours while caring for the couple’s son and dodging phone calls from her family.
Edwards’ family was tenacious in seeking justice in her case. Police officials previously said the family’s push for answers gave investigators even more incentive to bring an arrest in the case.
Late on the night of May 10, 2021, when Edwards was killed, her sister showed up at the condo to try to speak to Edwards or her husband about where she was. The affidavit said Edwards’ sister called 911 after Hutchinson sped off in a Jeep after she confronted him. The document states that Edwards’ sister told officers who responded to the scene she believed Hutchinson might have had her sister’s dead body in the back of his Jeep.
Officers searched the couple’s condo for signs of a struggle and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, the affidavit said.
Hutchinson showed up at the East Hartford police headquarters — barefoot — shortly before midnight to report his wife missing, arrest records show.
By May 20, 2021, law enforcement had narrowed in on a wooded area in East Hartford where they believed Edwards’ body might be after investigators spent days pouring over surveillance camera footage to piece together a timeline of Edwards’ last movements and Hutchinson’s whereabouts around the time of her disappearance. Investigators also looked into cellphone data for the two.
Investigators discovered via cellphone footage Hutchinson was near a park in East Hartford while police searched his home, arrest records show.
Law enforcement had to call off the search when it got dark on May 20. Investigators found a body the next morning. That afternoon, the state’s chief medical examiner confirmed the body was Edwards by a birthmark on her right shoulder, records show.