Brian Mitchell’s father: ‘We’re sorry two lives have been ruined’
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IDAHO FALLS – Two heartbroken families gathered in a Bonneville County Courtroom Wednesday, Oct. 21 for a preliminary hearing involving Brian Mitchell, the 18-year-old man charged with murdering Deraek Larson.
Both the Larson and Mitchell families sat silent during the nearly three hour hearing, until Judge Stephen Clark determined there was enough evidence to send Mitchell’s second degree murder case to a jury trial.
Three Idaho Falls police officers took the stand and spoke about interviews conducted with Mitchell, evidence gathered in the case and possible reasons as to why Mitchell allegedly killed 31-year-old Larson.
Trent Grant, Mitchell’s attorney, argued the killing was an act of self-defense in response to a sexual assault. Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney Danny Clark contends the extensive number of stabs wounds shows an intention to inflict deadly harm that went beyond self defense.
During the hearing, Detective Jessica Marley related the events leading up to the murder. During an interview shortly after Mitchell was arrested, the suspect told officers he had been hanging out with Larson at Tauphtaus Park, Marley said. They were drinking alcohol and Mitchell said he fell asleep on a picnic table.
When he awoke, Mitchell told officers Larson was performing oral sex on him.
“He became upset with this and they exchanged a few words,” Marley said. “He said Mr. Larson told him something to the effect that he thought it was okay. Mr. Mitchell said it was not okay.”
Marley testified Mitchell told Larson he was going to sleep in tube on a nearby playground and not to follow him. A short time later, Mitchell claimed Larson climbed in the tube wearing only underwear and tried to pull his Mitchell’s pants down.
“Mr. Mitchell told him to stop and if he didn’t stop, he wasn’t going to like what happened,” Marley said, recalling the police interview.
Grant argued Larson was aggressive as he tried to sexually assault Mitchell, saying, at one point, “This is going to happen.”
“Mr. Mitchell then rolled over on top of Mr. Larson, grabbed a pocket knife that he kept on his belt and stabbed Mr. Larson,” Marley said.
Larson was stabbed between 20 and 27 times, according to an autopsy report referenced at the hearing.
Marley said Larson suffered defensive wounds to his right hand. Prosecutors pointed out Larson’s left hand was malformed and was shorter than his right hand.
Detective Patrick McKenna gave testimony about the crime scene itself. He called it extremely bloody with more than a half dozen directions of blood spattering on the playground equipment.
“I had an arterial spurt, I had a high-impact area at one area of the platform, and I had swiping through the blood where our victim had actually fallen against blood on the surface,” McKenna said.
Grant asserts Mitchell acted in self-defense and stopped stabbing Larson once the victim let go of Mitchell’s clothes.
He told Judge Stephen Clark that Mitchell shouldn’t be charged with second degree murder, but manslaughter instead.
“There has been evidence presented that Mr. Mitchell stated he did not want to hurt this individual, he did not want to kill this individual, that he just wanted this individual to stop what was happening,” Grant said. “There has been evidence presented that Mr. Mitchell stabbed Mr. Larson a number of times, but the evidence also shows that the stabbing stopped once Mr. Larson let go of Mr. Mitchell.”
Outside the courtroom, Mike Mitchell, Brian’s father, said he’s sorry two lives have been ruined and his family feels “horrible” about what happened. Mike Mitchell said they hold no ill will toward anyone.
Mitchell will be arraigned in district court Nov. 3.