DA: Killer’s sentence illegal
November 19, 2008
A convicted killer’s sentence of life in prison with an additional eight to 20 years on a weapons charge is illegal, Carson City’s district attorney said in a motion asking that David Winfield Mitchell be resentenced for the 1982 murder of teenager Sheila Jo Harris.
“The court’s decision to impose the eight to 20 years for weapon enhancement was based on legislative amendments that went into effect on July 1, 2007 ” prior to the defendant’s trial and sentencing hearing, although long after the commission of the murder itself,” the motion filed Nov. 14 reads.
District Attorney Neil Rombardo argued that though Mitchell was tried and convicted in 2007, his sentencing should reflect the law at the time of the crime.
In 1982, the use of a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime doubled the sentence.
Rombardo said that Mitchell should have received a second life sentence, instead of the eight to 20 years he received for the weapon enhancement.
Mitchell, 63, was extradited from Trinidad in October 2006 after DNA evidence linked him to the killing of Harris, 19. The former Douglas County teen’s body was found
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Jan. 6, 1982, by her mother in Harris’s Foothill Garden Apartment on Lompa Lane.
A jury found Mitchell, the complex’s former handyman, guilty of first-degree murder with a deadly weapon and handed down a sentence of life in prison without parole.
After some debating, Judge Todd Russell decided to sentence Mitchell under the new law on the deadly weapon enhancement.
The defense has 10 days to respond, at which time Russell could set a hearing.
Harris’ mother, Linda Bratton, was not available for comment.
– Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.