Robert Mitchell: Indigenous teen robbed of 25 years and counting by racist justice
Robert Mitchell. | Photo courtesy of the Mitchell Family

LITTLE, Okla.—“My attorney was sleeping during the DA’s questions and I had to shake him awake twice,” Robert Mitchell related exclusively to People’s World. Mitchell’s life was ripped away at the tender age of 15, and now at 41 years of age, he is seeking justice.

Previous articles by this author gained information by interviewing his sister, Pearl Seaboy and his father, Charles Mitchell. This time, for the first time, Robert got to tell his side. Interestingly, at no time before, even back in 1994, was he ever given a snowball’s chance in hell to tell his own story. Extensive investigative journalism for the past month has turned up enough solid proof that he is innocent and railroaded by the then Assistant District Attorney Paul Smith, who is now DA for Seminole County, Oklahoma.

Smith is now part of the State’s response to Mitchell’s Post Relief Conviction hearing taking place in 2018. Sloppy police work, shoddy reports, and unreliable information were used to convict an innocent Indigenous teenager in 1994. The whole trial transcript reeks of constitutional rights violations, illegal actions by the DA and ADA, and a racist community railroading yet again another Indigenous youth.

“I tried to fire my attorney then, Pyron, three times, but the judge never allowed it,” Mitchell said. “As well the DA Peterson came to my cell, where I had no legal representation, nor parents present, and asked me to drop the filing of Bill of Particulars for my preliminary hearing.” The DA at the time, William Peterson, used devious actions upon a naive innocent teenager with no clue what was happening. “An attorney at the time, who is now a judge, said if he had gone to a preliminary hearing, more than likely he would have been found innocent, as there is no ounce of evidence in the file,” Mitchell sighed.

The Mitchell home. | Mark Maxey / PW

Mitchell did request evidence on February 18, 1993, but again his request fell upon deaf ears inside the Seminole County justice system.

“Neither my attorney nor the judge allowed my investigators to review the crime scene. By the time this came up, the crime scene had been demolished,” Mitchell said of constitutional rights violations by Seminole County justice system.

“I had requested a lie detector test, and both my attorney and DA would not allow it.” Robert’s stepmother, Minnie Mitchell, at the time submitted an affidavit to this effect as well.

When the police confronted Robert’s grandmother, asking if they could take him away to question him, she reportedly said yes. However, she only spoke Muskoke (Muscogee) or Seminole and hardly understood any English. “Yes, my grandmother (Lottie) spoke native tongue first, she had a hard time understanding any English,” Robert said, in an exclusive telephone interview. “She would always speak in her native tongue to other Indigenous persons. She constantly would say ‘huh’ when they spoke English,” Robert said. In a previous story, her son, Robert’s dad, Charles, stated the same thing. “My mom did not speak much if any English, and she sure did not understand it (English) that much,” Charles stated to People’s World. Robert Mitchell was held, questioned and detained in the backseat of a police car with no guardian nor any attorney present for approximately 11 hours.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation filed this report in the case. Yet on the witness stand, the OSBI agent testified that there was just a trace of unrecognizable blood which he was not able to conclusively say was human or animal. During the course of leading up to the trial, many bizarre truths would bring Robert’s situation into a whirlwind of confusion. First, the only evidence—which proves nothing—was a drop of blood on Robert’s sock that he wore September 4, 1992. “The OSBI agent stated on record that he could not specify if the fractional droplet of blood was human or animal,” Pearl Seaboy states. “Later DNA analysis would prove that it did not belong to Ms. McGeehee at all. They never found to this day the murder weapon.”

As well, Robert was charged with burglary, but in the testimony from the transcript, no one can say if anything was missing. The OSBI also did not test the substance of what they claim was blood on the shoe worn by Robert, they simply assumed. The agent testified further that no fingerprints could be established as those of Robert Mitchell inside the house.

The local Seminole Producer newspaper interviewed Robert on May 16, 1993. In the article, Robert describes a person and a car that were seen leaving the scene of the murder. At no time did the police or anyone follow up on that. And the fact that her house was burglarized months before the murder, no one ever followed up on that either.

Lottie Mitchell. | Photo courtesy of the Mitchell Family.

“I am wanting my story, from me, out to the public through the media,” Robert Mitchell said. “I want People’s World to be the first media source, and then all media from there. Never before has my story been written about. For so long my legal counsel has not wanted media attention, but I’m innocent.”

A 15-year-old boy was held in the back of the police car for 11 hours with no guardian nor attorney present. Multiple written testimony was taken under duress. Mitchell’s own investigators were not allowed access to the crime scene for their own scientific investigation. He asked the courts to fire his attorney at least two documented times, all of which was never allowed. Dubious private words with the DA Peterson led to this case going straight to trial when obviously a 15-year-old is not capable of legally agreeing to it. A known person running away from the house where the murder happened and getting into a Ford vehicle was never investigated. All this and so much more illustrates how an Indigenous child was railroaded with a miscarriage of justice.

 

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CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Maxey
Mark Maxey

Oklahoman Mark Maxey is a Yuchi Indian, enrolled in the Muscogee Nation, and has a degree in radio/TV/film. He is a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO. He’s worked as an administrative assistant, petroleum landman, barista, staff writer, paralegal, content producer and graphic designer. He spent six months as a National Data Team volunteer for the Bernie Sanders for President campaign.

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