A Chattanooga man with a history of convictions pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to knowingly infecting his pregnant ex-wife with HIV in 2011.
After four years of the case winding through Hamilton County Criminal Court, James T. Hutchins was sentenced to four years of supervised probation and zero contact with the victim. He was charged with criminal exposure to HIV.
"No visiting, calling or texting," Judge Tom Greenholtz said. "Do you understand, Mr. Hutchins?"
Hutchins, 50, agreed. He waived his right to a jury trial, relinquished several of his civil rights — such as the ability to hold public office, vote or possess a firearm — and left the courtroom.
His former wife reported to Chattanooga police on June 6, 2011, that Hutchins knowingly gave her HIV, according to an affidavit. She and Hutchins met online in 2005 and married in November 2006, records show. The victim said she had sex only with Hutchins.
After getting lab work done, the victim learned she had the virus.
But when she shared her HIV-positive test results with Hutchins, he left, the affidavit says. Hutchins was arrested July 26, 2011, and later posted a $10,000 bond.
Court records show Hutchins also was arrested for criminal exposure to HIV in 1999, when he received a six-month jail sentence and was placed on probation for years when he infected someone else. Several other victims linked to Hutchins spoke out when his case was publicized in 2011.
In the courtroom Wednesday, Hutchins fidgeted near the back wall before he was called to the stand. In street clothes, he listened without reaction while Assistant District Attorney Kristen Spires rattled through the state's evidence. He answered questions patiently. He didn't hesitate when Greenholtz asked, "How do you plead?"
"Guilty," he said.
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