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Jury selection begins in Mitchell murder trial

By Erin Smith

Jury selection got under way Monday afternoon for the third person accused in the shooting death of Darrell Dionte Council. Shanika Nicole Mitchell stood before Resident Superior Court Judge Tanya Wallace and said she wanted to go to trial after declining all of the plea offerings which have been made by the Bladen County District Attorney’s Office since her arrest.

Bladen County Assistant District Attorney Quentin McGee told the court that the first plea offer was made to Mitchell on October 27th, 2016, and it expired without a response. McGee said the second offer was made to Mitchell on June 2, 2017. The second offer required her to plead guilty to accessory to first murder and testify against the other defendants in the case. This offer, too, expired.

A third offer was made on July 6, 2017, which required her to plead guilty to accessory after the fact and testify against the other defendants. McGee said this was the same offer which was accepted by D’Nayzia Downing, who was also facing charges in the case. 

McGee told the court that on September 15, 2017, another offer was made to Mitchell to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit first degree murder and testify against the other defendants. It expired in October 2017 without acceptance. 

McGee told the court that on Monday morning the District Attorney’s Office staff had been in discussion with the Darrell Council’s family and they had agreed to allow Mitchell to plead guilty to second degree murder and attempted first degree murder.

“She has not availed herself of any of that. That is her right,” said McGee. 

After McGee read the various plea offers into the court record, Mitchell stood beside her defense attorney Wes Johnson and told Judge Wallace, “I want to go to trial.” 

Mitchell will now face trial on two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, one count of first degree murder, and one count of attempted first degree murder. 

In addition to Mitchell, D’Nayzia Downing, accepted a plea deal and received a minimum of 65 months and a maximum of 90 months active with credit received for time served. Mitchell’s brother, Montise Mitchell, who was found guilty in a jury trial of first degree murder in a trial in 2017. He was sentenced to life without parole. 

A fourth defendant in the case who has yet to face trial is Christopher Baldwin.

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