Tennessee authorities believe a man sentenced to four years' probation for exposing his then-wife to HIV should now serve the rest of his punishment behind bars.
After James Hutchins received probation Oct. 7, 2015, in Hamilton County Criminal Court, the 52-year-old was supposed to follow a number of rules if he wanted to remain out of prison.
Court records say he didn't, starting a few weeks into his sentence.
"Subject reported to this office on or about 10/07/2015 and reported living in Nashville, TN," according to a probation violation report filed in February.
"This office gave Mr. Hutchins an extra week to arrange transportation. Subject reported on 10/21/2015 and was advised to make contact ... no later than 10/26/2015. Subject has failed to report or make contact with this office."
When a probation officer called Hutchins' contact person, the woman claimed she'd had unprotected sex with Hutchins, court records say.
Hutchins, who also was arrested for criminal exposure to HIV in Chattanooga in 1999, is now in the Hamilton County Jail on "no bond" for the alleged probation violations, court records show.
He also faces two counts of violation of the sex offender registry.
Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz hasn't ruled on whether Hutchins should serve the remainder of his sentence in prison, a standard punishment for probation violations. He is scheduled to hear more proof on the matter Oct. 4.
In the meantime, Hutchins' public defender, Kevin Loper, said during a check-up hearing Wednesday that he's searching for alternative programs that don't involve prison.
"I've gotten [someone] in our office involved in trying to secure a program or some sort of alternative for Mr. Hutchins to go to that may make the court feel better about releasing him," Loper said.
This court proceeding stems from June 6, 2011, when his former wife reported to Chattanooga police that Hutchins knowingly gave her HIV, court records show. She and Hutchins met online in 2005 and married in November 2006, according to a criminal affidavit. The victim said she only had sex with Hutchins.relatedarticlethumb
Other victims linked to Hutchins spoke out when the case was publicized in 2011.
Melydia Clewell, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney General's Office in Hamilton County, said Wednesday that Chattanooga prosecutors didn't receive any evidence about the contact person who claimed Hutchins had unprotected sex with her.
"[We're] not aware of the status of additional charges in Nashville," Clewell wrote in an email. "The defendant subsequently [served] 10 months, day for day, before returning to the state sex offender probation."
After that, Hutchins called his probation officer on April 4, saying he was living at the Economy Inn on Brainerd Road. But living at the room, within 1,000 feet of Tacoa Park, was considered a violation of the sex offender registry laws, court records show, and officers arrested Hutchins when he didn't leave.
Hutchins was charged with another count of violation of the sex offender registry he called his probation officer on May 8 and said he'd been released from jail on May 5.
"After checking [state records], it was discovered the defendant was actually released from Hamilton County Jail on 5/02/2017," according to a criminal affidavit. "The defendant is required to report and register with the Chattanooga Probation and Parole office within 48 hours of his release."
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.relatedarticlethumb