Black Man Charged with First-Degree Murder in a Car Accident.

by Pitt Griffin on August 15, 2019 · 0 comments

in Crime, Racism

There are social penalties to being black in America. Increased difficulty in getting a job. Petty insults accrued while swimming, barbequing or selling water. And greater jeopardy in the criminal justice system. Consider the case of Cedric Mitchell.

Mitchell is a black man, married to a white woman, Tiffany, who brought kids to the marriage before she had three more with Cedric. A happy, blended family in Twin Falls, Idaho. 

While driving on June 7th, Mitchell ran into the back of Dwayne Steiner’s 1997 Dodge Ram, which had stopped at an intersection. According to the affidavit of probable cause, he was going between 75 and 79 miles an hour in a 30 mile an hour zone. The vehicles ended up in oncoming traffic.

In the collisions that ensued Dwayne’s wife Maryann was severely injured and died in hospital two days later. The lead prosecutor, Grant Loebs, charged Mitchell with one count of first-degree murder and seven counts of felony aggravated battery.

Loebs says he hasn’t yet decided whether to pursue this as a death penalty case or settle for life behind bars.

In fairness, Mitchell has a record. He was charged with four felonies in Arizona, including assaults on two police officers. He was charged with an assault on medical personnel for an incident on the way from the wreck to hospital.

And he has faced multiple vehicle-related charges in the past six years, including failure to provide proof of insurance, driving without privileges, failure to register a vehicle, and driving with a suspended or invalid license.

But what reason could the prosecutor possibly have for pursuing this as a deliberate killing? No ‘evidence’ has been offered except for Loeb’s statement in response to whether he will seek capital punishment: “I don’t know, it’s too early to think about the death penalty.” He claims that there’s no way it was an accident. “It’s not like ‘Oops, I was texting. Nobody believes that.”

Really? Why not? Is there a confession? Did Mitchell leave a note to explain his behavior? He didn’t know the Steiners, so it’s not personal. And there was no theft or other crime involved. His previous traffic incidents had all been documentary rather than accidents.

And let’s, for argument’s sake, say that Mitchell was having a mental breakdown how does that justify a first-degree murder charge?

The state is arguing that Mitchell hadn’t tried to brake or swerve before the collision. That would seem to be an equally good proof of distracted driving. Perhaps he fell asleep? As evidence of murder, it seems thin.

Perhaps this overcharging is standard in Idaho? Hardly. A pick-up driver in Blane, Idaho, killed three little girls while driving drunk last Saturday. He’s been hit with three felony charges of vehicular manslaughter and two charges of aggravated DUI, reports the Idaho Statesman.

Another fatal car crash in August led to the death of a man’s wife. A search found meth and heroin in the car. So far he’s been charged with drug possession.

So why the difference in crimes charged? In the other cases, the drivers were white. Proof positive of racism? No. But consider the community’s reaction, while bearing in mind that Loebs is up for re-election.

Lisa Sallee Bratt, who is married to a deputy sheriff in Twin Falls, offered this: “just take him out and hang him. That’s what he deserves.” It’s lynching language, pure and simple.

Shelley G Worchester chimed in: “If convicted of murder let the family of the loved ones watch his ass hang!!! Why do we wast [sic] our money on these low life losers when they kill people!!!!!”

At least Worchester wants Mitchell to have the benefit of a trial. But has she been so vocal about white ‘low life losers’? On a side note, fiscal prudence demands life in prison as it costs less than executing someone. Also, in Idaho, the sole method of execution is lethal injection.

Larry Allred offered to “put the rope around his neck.” Fred Ochsner opined that “public hanging will do”. Axel Anderson was more specific “He should be linched [sic] at main and Shoshone at high noon!!”

I don’t know what was in Cedric Mitchell’s heart. It seems that punishment is warranted, perhaps even extensive time in prison. But first-degree murder? That’s grandstanding. He can’t be the only driver with a record who has been involved in a fatal crash in Idaho.

Every criminal deserves to suffer the consequences of his actions. But the consequences of his actions shouldn’t depend on the color of his skin.

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