Family split after decision in Angelina County drowning case

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A family appears to be divided after a decision by an Angelina County jury to rule a Louisiana woman incompetent to stand trial for the death of her 3 year-old nephew.

A jury made the ruling on Billie Jean Cuttler just before 10 p.m. Wednesday night. The announcement in Judge Paul White's courtroom came after six and a -half hours of deliberation.

For Cuttler, it was a win her team spent months fighting for. In June, a mental evaluation came back that different from a first for Cuttler. Defense Attorney Al Charanza then decided to leave it up to a jury to make the final decision.

"It is clear from the number of hours this jury worked, that they worked hard, that they considered all the evidence," Charanza said. " This has been hard on the family. We are going forward because we now have other legal issues."

The findings of the jury was not welcome news to a grieving father.

"They wanted to win," Kevin Cuttler Jr. said. "They wanted to take a murderer out of prison or jail and go out here and hurt another child."

During the two-day competency trial, Charanza argued that Billie Jean Cuttler had a mental disability and could not understand what she was in trouble for or how the legal system worked. Prosecutor April Perez told the jury that it was all a show. She pointed to recorded interviews where Billie Jean Cuttler could be heard asking about probation and asking for a bond. Perez also played a jail house recording where Billie Jean Cuttler told her family that at an upcoming mental evaluation she was going to act "stupid".

With the trial over, Billie Jean Cuttler could be given a bond. The state could look to dismiss the charge or push for Billie Jean Cuttler to be moved to a facility. After the verdict was read, Perez and Charanza told Judge White they had not discussed yet what they were looking at doing. Kevin Cuttler Jr is hoping his sister will not get a bond.

In August of last year, authorities searched Kevin Cuttler's property for a whole day looking for the body of his 3-year-old son, Mason. His body was later found in the family pond. By October, Mason's aunt Billie Jean and her boyfriend Bobby Woods Jr. were charged with capital murder. The exact moment of learning his son was dead has not left Kevin Cuttler.

"I miss everything that me and him had together," Kevin Cuttler said. "I miss his laugh, bright blue eyes, his hugs, his kiss, his talking, his 'dada,' his 'mama,' him saying 'gigi,'  and him saying 'papa.' I miss playing cars with him. We used to lay on the floor and play cars together."

"It's so hard," Kevin Cuttler said. "I do not want her to walk away from this. She hurt one kid; she can do it again when she gets a chance. My son is going to be rolling in his grave right now. I mean rolling."

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