By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio (AP) – A woman accused of killing her three young sons out of jealousy at the attention her husband paid them was ordered held on $1 million bond Thursday as her family struggled to make sense of the arrest and her mother argued she was innocent.
Brittany Pilkington made a brief appearance wearing an orange jail suit in Bellefontaine Municipal Court, where Judge Ann Beck set the bond and scheduled an initial hearing for next week. Pilkington, 23, did not speak and wasn’t required to enter a plea on the murder charges against her.
Outside the courtroom, her mother, Lori Cummins, said Pilkington told her in a brief jailhouse phone call that she was innocent.
“I asked her on the phone, I said, ‘Why?’ She just comes across and said: ‘I didn’t. I told them I didn’t do it,'” Cummins said.
Police and prosecutors say Pilkington confessed on Tuesday after her third son, 3-month-old Noah, was found dead.
Logan County Prosecutor William Goslee said Wednesday that authorities didn’t have any evidence of a crime in the earlier deaths, and no one could have predicted Pilkington would kill her remaining son.
Authorities weren’t sure what caused the death of 3-month-old Niall Pilkington in July 2014, and it was attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. After 4-year-old Gavin died in April, daughter Hailey and the newborn boy, Noah, were taken into custody by the Logan County Children’s Services pending an investigation.
A judge allowed Noah to be returned home because there wasn’t conclusive evidence the first two boys had been killed.
The judge, Dan Bratka, said he can’t comment about the Pilkingtons because the family’s child services case is still pending in his court.
Authorities now believe Pilkington used each boy’s comfort blanket to suffocate him in his crib or bed because she wanted her husband to pay more attention to her and their 3-year-old daughter, Goslee said.
Goslee said Pilkington was dominated and isolated by her 43-year-old husband, Joseph Pilkington, who had been her own mother’s live-in boyfriend before marrying Brittany in 2010. He isn’t a suspect in the case.
Cummins said her daughter was always good with the children and that Joseph Pilkington favored the 4-year-old son over the 3-year-old girl.
Cummins, 43, also said she had told her daughter she didn’t need any more kids because she had her hands full.
A message was left for Pilkington’s attorney, Mark Triplett, after the court appearance.
The county prosecutor has alleged Pilkington was physically abused as a child by her father, who denies those accusations.
Associated Press writer Kantele Franko in Columbus contributed to this report.
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