COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Opening statements were held Tuesday in the trial of a former Columbus Division of Police vice officer accused of the shooting and killing of a woman in August 2018.
According to prosecutors, Mitchell was working as an undercover officer in an unmarked vehicle looking for prostitution activity when Castleberry got into the car. The two agreed on a price for a sex act and Mitchell later told Castleberry that he was a police officer and that she was under arrest, according to the prosecution.
The state said Castleberry did not believe him and he did not have his badge. Prosecutors said a physical altercation followed, with Castleberry cutting Mitchell.
The defense said Castleberry put her foot against Mitchell’s throat and moments later, she climbed into the backseat, at which point Mitchell still perceived her as a threat.
“We believe ladies and gentlemen that the evidence will show that this decision to use deadly force was in fact reasonable,” said Kaitlyn Stephens, Mitchell’s attorney.
“Donna wasn’t a threat,” said Sheryl Prichard, Franklin County assistant prosecutor. “She was trying to get away. Everything you’ll see over the course of this case will support that.”
The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, resumes Wednesday.
Mitchell has been held in federal custody pending an unrelated case in which he is accused of forcing women to have sex with him to avoid arrest.
The former vice officer faces life in prison if convicted of the murder charge. If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Mitchell could be sentenced to between three and 11 years in prison.