Eugene Mitchell

04 October 2019 :

After Nearly 6 Years in Jail Because of Unaffordable Bail, Eugene Mitchell was acquitted of Capital Murder. Mitchell, now 61, Black, languished in jail for nearly six years because of bail he could not afford. Mitchell faced the death penalty on charges that he had raped, sodomized, and murdered Sheila Devine, 61 on Nov. 12, 2013. On September 18, 2019, a Jefferson County jury found Mitchell not guilty of all charges against him. He had spent 5 years, 8 months and 10 days in pretrial custody, unable to post a quarter-million dollar cash bond. “They wanted to kill me for something I knew I didn’t do,” Mitchell said. “It is the most terrifying thing in the world.” Angie Elleman, one of the public defenders who represented Mitchell, called the capital prosecution “an extreme waste of resources.” The wrongful murder charges and prolonged incarceration also exacted an extreme personal toll on Mitchell. His health dramatically deteriorated during his time in jail. He experienced severe depression, gained 100 pounds, and had to have 13 teeth extracted. While he was in custody, Mitchell was evicted from his home and lost his possessions. Although the jury verdict set him free, he is now homeless. The prosecution claimed that Mitchell committed the crime with co-defendant Guy Marcus Allen, whose trial is still pending. DNA evidence suggests that Allen, not Mitchell, sexually assaulted Devine. Mitchell’s DNA was found in Devine’s apartment, but in places his attorneys described as “innocuous,” such as on the vodka bottle he had shared with Devine the day before her attack. The prosecution claimed that Mitchell knew details about the crime that supposedly were known only to police and the killer, but facts about the case had quickly become the subject of gossip in the neighborhood where Devine and Mitchell lived. A prosecution witness told the jury that Mitchell had been bleeding from his neck after the killing, possibly indicating a struggle with the victim. However, surveillance video from the store in which Mitchell worked debunked that testimony. The prosecution also failed to prove that Mitchell and Allen had been in Devine’s apartment at the same time, and the defense presented evidence that the 2 men did not even know each other. 

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