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Lawyers say woman's confession to killing 3 young sons should not be allowed at trial

Pilkington in court 1.jpg
Brittany Pilkington appearing in court Jan. 8, 2019. (WSYX/WTTE)

BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) - More than three years after a Central Ohio mom was arrested on charges she murdered her three young sons, lawyers for Brittany Pilkington were in court arguing that her confession to police should be suppressed and not allowed in her death-penalty case.

Pilkington, who was arrested in August, 2015, is accused of killing her four-year-old and two infant sons over a 13-month period from 2014 through August, 2015. Court documents revealed the Bellefontaine woman confessed to police that she killed the boys because she felt her husband paid more attention to them.

Pilkington's mom said her daughter, who was 24 at the time of her arrest, was "drilled for 12 hours" by authorities. Her attorneys have argued authorities pressured her into confessing and she didn't understand what she was doing when she agreed to be interviewed without a lawyer. A defense attorney has also argued experts concluded the Bellefontaine woman has brain damage and a low IQ.

Prosecutors say she was advised of her rights, and a judge previously ruled the recorded interrogation can be used.

Police say Pilkington smothered all three boys, killing three-month-old Niall in 2014, four-year-old Gavin in April, 2015, and three-month-old Noah in August, 2015. Authorities say after Noah was born, he and his older sister were taken into protective custody over concerns about the deaths of the two boys, but they did not have enough evidence to prove foul play.

The boy's father, Joe Pilkington, said he didn't know his wife was being investigated for his sons' deaths, and he even took his daughter for genetic testing after they died to see if there was a medical explanation. During the investigation into the three boys' deaths, Joe Pilkington was arrested and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of gross sexual imposition for having sex with his wife when she was underage, before they were married.

One expert testified that the interrogation was just too much for Pilkington.

“She couldn’t process that and she just went along and subsequently she just parroted what her interrogators were telling her," said Jeffery Madden, a psychologist. "It's a capitulation, not a confession.”

Madden said Pilkington suffered brain damage from lead poisoning as an infant. He also read from a medical report which showed Pilkington banged her head on her bedpost nightly when she was a child.

Prosecutors tried to point out that investigators frequently asked her if she wanted breaks or food and water during the lengthy interrogation and that Pilkington refused.

“She said no, but (investigators) should have known better," Madden testified.

Brittany Pilkington is set to go on trial for her three sons' deaths starting March 18.

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