COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A former Columbus vice officer was found not guilty of murder by a Franklin County jury Tuesday afternoon in his retrial.
Andrew Mitchell, a former vice cop who was accused of shooting and killing sex worker Donna Castleberry in 2018, was found not guilty of murder and not guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
Defense attorney Mark Collins started Tuesday’s session with his closing arguments. After his conclusion at around 10:40 a.m., the prosecution began its rebuttal of Collins’ arguments at 10:45 a.m. A 15-minute rebuttal ended the closing arguments portion with the jury sent to deliberate at 11 a.m.
At 4:30 p.m., the jury reached its not guilty verdict which was read to Mitchell in the courtroom moments later.
Hear the reading of both verdicts in the video player below.
Mitchell’s first trial in 2022 lasted for seven days and ended with a deadlocked jury.
Shortly after the verdict was read, the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge 9, the union representing Columbus police officers, released the following statement:
Officer Mitchell was severely injured and choked before he utilized deadly force to stop the threat. This was clearly justified, and he should have never been charged. Following the first trial, 10 out of 12 jurors would not vote to convict. Yet, the prosecution decided to waste more taxpayer funds on another trial that would not result in a conviction. This was nothing short of a political prosecution and we are grateful to the jury for coming to the correct and just verdict and not being influenced by political agendas.
On Monday morning, the defense called former Akron police officer Kevin Davis as its final witness. Davis was called to the stand as an expert in “use of force” for a police officer. The defense utilized his knowledge on police protocol to validate Mitchell’s decisions to pull the trigger.
After cross examination from the prosecution, in which they argued the defense’s expert based his analysis on witness statements instead of solely on what was presented, the defense rested its case Monday at 2:15 p.m.
Monday’s court session concluded with assistant prosecutor Sheryl Prichard’s closing argument. The state concluded its closing arguments at 4 p.m. before the trial stopped for the day.
The first week of the trial concluded with testimony from Mitchell himself who recounted the events that occurred on Aug. 23, 2018. During his testimony, Mitchell said Castleberry did not believe him when he said he was a vice officer. He worked to prove he was an officer by showing her paperwork and an ID card. It was then, he said, the attempted arrest turned physical.
The prosecution worked to poke holes in his claims that he was just an officer making an arrest — instead the questioning focused on his unpreparedness.
In April 2022, Mitchell’s initial trial ended with a deadlocked jury. One week after that trial ended, prosecutors announced their intent to retry Mitchell.
Mitchell is also facing federal charges over allegations that he kidnapped sex workers under the guise of arrest and forced them to perform sexual favors in exchange for their freedom, according to records with the Southern District Court of Ohio. He is also accused of tampering with a witness, victim or informant.
Mitchell is expected to appear in federal court for his trial on July 24, according to court records.