Christopher Mitchell, 31, was found responsible for the death of 2-year-old Jacob Mitchell in a hotel room where the family was living at the time. (Press file photo)
A Johnson City man serving 24 years in prison after being convicted last year in his son’s 2009 accidental shooting death had six years shaved off his sentence during a post-conviction hearing Thursday.
Christopher Mitchell, 31, was found responsible for the death of 2-year-old Jacob Mitchell in a hotel room where the family was living at the time. Jacob was able to get his hands on his father’s handgun and it went off. He died from a single gunshot wound to the head while his father was sleeping.
At the beginning of his trial in January 2013, Mitchell pleaded guilty to two charges — tampering with evidence and identity theft — that stemmed from him hiding the gun after the shooting incident and then later giving police a false name.
He received 10 years and 12 years, respectively, on those convictions. A jury convicted Mitchell of criminally negligent homicide — a reduced verdict from the original charge of first-degree murder — and felony reckless endangerment.
It’s that last conviction, which had originally been aggravated child neglect, that became an issue during Mitchell’s first steps in appealing his convictions. He received six years each on those convictions.
Blackwood ran some of the sentences concurrently and others consecutively.
The post-conviction appeal, filed by attorney Patrick Denton, attacked the felony reckless endangerment conviction because the jury was erroneously allowed to consider it as a lesser crime for aggravated child neglect.
Denton said the conviction was “void because felony reckless endangerment is not a lesser included of aggravated child neglect.”
Assistant District Attorney Dennis Brooks did not oppose the motion and elected to dismiss that count altogether. Mitchell could not have been retried on the neglect or felony reckless endangerment charge.
With the agreement stated on the record, Blackwood dismissed the conviction, which reduced Mitchell’s sentence from 24 years to 18 years. He is now serving that sentence, but when it’s completed at 60 percent he will be transferred to federal custody to serve a 15-year sentence for a weapon possession charge related to his son’s shooting.
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