Brother of Idaho Falls murder suspect: ‘He’s not a monster’
Published at | Updated at
IDAHO FALLS — Brian Mitchell’s brother says his sibling is not a monster, and the reason he stabbed a man to death was to protect himself.
In a wide-ranging interview with EastIdahoNews.com, Brian’s only brother, Michael Mitchell, says their family is still coming to terms with what allegedly happened at Tautphaus Park on Aug 16.
Police say 18-year-old Brian Mitchell stabbed 31-year-old Deraek Larson 20 to 27 times on playground equipment. Larson’s body was discovered hours later, and Brian Mitchell was charged with second degree murder.
“I couldn’t believe that he would do something like that,” Michael Mitchell said in his first interview with the media. “I was shocked. I was really confused. I really didn’t know what to think.”
Brian claims Larson tried to sexually assault him twice at the park, and the stabbing was self-defense.
After the violent encounter, investigators say Brian ran to his father’s home in Idaho Falls while Larson lay dying on the playground.
Court testimony reveals Mitchell’s father then drove Brian to his grandmother’s home in Shelley, where Michael was staying.
“He seemed stressed out – like he didn’t feel so well anymore,” Michael said.
Michael told EastIdahoNews.com anchor Nate Eaton that he learned about the murder on the news, but never imagined his brother might be involved.
“Did he mention anything to you about it?” Eaton asked.
“I’m not comfortable answering that right now,” Michael responded.
Michael says Brian tried to sleep a lot and avoided the news in the hours following the murder.
A few days later, detectives showed up at Mitchell’s grandmother’s house and took Brian into custody.
“He reacted to the situation the only way he thought he could,” Michael said. “He woke up and there was a guy in the (playground) tube trying to do things to him. He might have gone a little overboard. Honestly, I’m a little horrified at the fact that someone would try to sexually assault him. I think if Deraek had stopped, my brother probably would have just left.”
Michael says his brother had a relatively normal childhood, although he dropped out of school in the eighth grade and was homeless at the time of the murder.
He admits Brian had some troubles, but never showed violent tendencies.
“He’s never gone out of his way to be violent,” Michael said. “He’s just been a kid having a good time, and then you get thrown into a situation like that.
Michael believes the second-degree murder charge is “a little overboard” and thinks it should be dropped in exchange for a lesser charge.
“I think this is the state trying to look at it as a malicious assault instead of self-defense,” Michael said. “I think the state is going to try and push for the highest penalty.”
Michael, who looks similar to Brian, says a lot of people know the two are related, and he’s even been harassed since his brother was arrested.
“I have heard a couple of people that it used to know ask me if i was going to stab them,” Michael says.
“Do they ask in a joking way or are they somewhat serious?” Eaton asked.
“I don’t even know,” Michael says. “I get fed up with it after a while.”
Although he may be fed up, Michael says he stands by his brother and “he’s not a monster as everybody tries to paint him out to be.”
When asked if there’s anything he wants to say to Larson family, Michael thinks for a minute and responds, “I’m sorry that someone had to die.”
EastIdahoNews.com reached out to the Larson family for an interview, but they have thus far declined to comment.
Michael says he talks to his brother a few times a week on the phone, but they’ve never discussed what happened at Tautphaus Park.
Brian Mitchell’s jury trial begins in April.