1982 murder suspect in court again on Monday
Appeal Staff Writer
A Caribbean night watchman accused in the 1982 murder of a Carson City teen will appear again Monday in a West Indies courtroom after he expressed to a magistrate there Wednesday he intends to fight extradition to the U.S.
David Winfield Mitchell, 60, appeared Wednesday on the Carson City warrant charging open murder before Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls at the Port of Spain’s Eighth Magistrates’ Court.
“The magistrate asked (Mitchell) if he was going to consent to extradition and he said he would fight it,” said David West, head of Central Authority for the Ministry of the Attorney General & Legal Affairs in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
On Jan. 6, 1982, Sheila Harris, 18, was found murdered in her Foothill Gardens apartment at the corner of Lompa Lane and Long Street. The 1981 Miss Douglas County had been strangled, raped and beaten.
Mitchell was the complex’s maintenance man with pass keys to all the apartments.
He was arrested in the case in 1986 but released on lack of evidence.
DNA testing done in 2000 on fluids found on Harris’ body and clothing came back as matching Mitchell’s hair, blood and saliva samples he submitted in 1987.
U.S. investigators, with the help of international police, located Mitchell in Trinidad in 2004. He was arrested Friday morning by Interpol officers at his job as a night watchman in Mount Hope.
On Wednesday, attorney Sunita Harrikissoon of the Office of the Attorney General, who is representing the interest of the U.S. government in the extradition proceedings, said she was prepared to go forward with the hearing Monday, said Hayden Mills, a reporter with the Trinidad & Tobago Express, who sat in on Wednesday’s proceedings.
According to Carson City court records, Mitchell isn’t a stranger to court proceedings. He served at least eight years in a New York prison on charges stemming from two robberies and a sexual assault that occurred in Manhattan in the summer of 1968.
And in 1979, Mitchell was arrested in Santa Clara, Calif., on suspicion of burglary, false imprisonment, battery with a deadly weapon and attempted rape. He was later convicted of false imprisonment and assault.
According to court records from 1987, “the circumstances surrounding Mitchell’s arrest in Santa Clara strike some similarities with the murder of Sheila Harris.”
In the California incident for which Mitchell eventually pleaded guilty, he coerced his way into the home of two women he met at a party and pulled out a knife when one of the women resisted his advances.
Mitchell had begun to tie the women up with speaker wire in a bedroom when one of them was able to get the knife from him and stab him.
In a 1987 affidavit in support of a warrant requesting Mitchell submit hair, saliva and blood for testing in the Harris case, Carson City Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Efford outlined the similarities between the Santa Clara case and the Harris case noting: Mitchell entered the Santa Clara apartment without use of force and eventually forced both victims into a bedroom, Harris’ apartment showed no signs of forced entry and she was found murdered in her bedroom; Mitchell used stereo wire to tie up one of the Santa Clara victims, Harris was strangled by a ligature similar to electrical or stereo cord, based on the marks found on her neck; when one of the Santa Clara victims began to struggle, Mitchell picked up a vase and struck her along the left side of her face, Harris was struck along the left side of her face with an unidentified piece of wood; the Santa Clara victims were “young, white, single females,” Harris was white, unmarried and 18 years old.
Mitchell is being held in a Port of Spain jail without bail.
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.