Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office secured a manslaughter conviction early Friday morning (March 6) for a gunman responsible for the fatal shooting of a man inside an abandoned Upper 9th Ward house in 2018.
An Orleans Parish jury deliberated five hours before finding Aaron Mitchell guilty of manslaughter and being a felon in possession of a firearm, in a verdict returned around 4:30 a.m. in the courtroom of Criminal District Judge Paul Bonin.
The convicted killer faces a prison term of up to 40 years on the manslaughter count when Bonin imposes his sentence on March 27. That sentencing range is expected to become 20 to 80 years once Mitchell’s status as a multiple-felony offender is established at the sentencing hearing.
Mitchell, 28, had been charged with second-degree murder for the killing of 56-year-old Kevin Mitchell (no relation), whose body was found inside a vacant house in the 3000 block of North Galvez Street on June 18, 2018. The owner of the property, which had been left unoccupied since Hurricane Katrina, discovered the corpse after arriving to perform maintenance work that afternoon.
Jury selection for the trial began Tuesday. But before jurors were impaneled, Aaron Mitchell on Monday elected to plead guilty as charged to obstruction of justice, one of the three counts he faced in connection to the killing. The defendant entered that guilty plea of his own volition, absent any plea agreement or sentencing guarantee.
The bulk of the trial involved two days of testimony from New Orleans police homicide Detective Sgt. Rob Barrere, who detailed his painstaking investigation that developed Aaron Mitchell as the killer who shot Kevin Mitchell three times and left him for dead inside the gutted home.
Barrere’s investigation determined a New Orleans East hotel where Kevin Mitchell had been staying, and phone records linking him to Aaron Mitchell. The detective found surveillance video of the victim leaving the hotel with his killer in a Honda Civic with no license plate, a sedan Aaron Mitchell had borrowed from a girlfriend about 12 hours before the killing.
The two Mitchells drove together for three stops in which the victim’s debit card was used to withdraw more than $1,000 from automated teller machines.
Cellphone tower data also was collected, which showed the defendant’s registered device in proximity to the victim’s hotel, the financial institutions where the debit card was used, and ultimately the house where the victim was slain. Aaron Mitchell also made incriminating statements from jail on recorded phone calls to his brother following his arrest.
“Absent an eyewitness, this might have been a case with too many dead ends for some,” Cannizzaro said. “Fortunately for this victim and his family, this killing fell to one of the NOPD’s finest homicide investigators, whose persistence and careful diligence peeled back the layers until the case was solved. I want to commend Detective Sgt. Barrere and our hard-working prosecutors for presenting a difficult investigation in a manner that dispelled any reasonable doubt for this jury.”
Assistant District Attorneys Daniel Smart and Michael Trummel prosecuted the case.
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