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Father won't face death penalty in boy's death

Posted November 4, 2010

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— Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline said Thursday that she won't seek the death penalty against a man charged with killing his 4-year-old son in September.

Joseph Anthony Mitchell, 46, of 17 Thistle Trace in Hillsborough, has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. He remains in safe-keeping custody at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Blake Mitchell was killed early Sept. 22 in the family home. A Durham County Sheriff's Office investigator has said the boy's injuries were consistent with suffocation or strangulation.

Two other children in the home at the time, Devon Mitchell, 10, and Lexi Mitchell, 13, told investigators that they awoke to find their father trying to cover their mouths or faces, and they had to fend him off, according to a search warrant.

Joseph Mitchell was found with stab wounds and cuts that authorities say were self-inflicted.

The family had suffered numerous financial setbacks, and neither Joseph Mitchell nor his wife had reliable incomes, investigators said.

According to court records, the family's house in the Hardscrabble Plantation subdivision was foreclosed on in mid-June. Numerous papers had been served on the family in an effort to collect on other debts, according to a search warrant.

Investigators seized information on life insurance policies, including policies on the three children, from the home.

District Judge William Marsh on Tuesday signed a judgment in which Joseph Mitchell agreed to give his wife ownership of five vehicles, all of his personal property in their home and any stocks he has.

Christine Mitchell sought the property to help support the couple's two surviving children, according to court records.

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  • shortcake53 Nov 5, 2010

    quiltessnz, I'm offended that you assume his problems started because he "moved down south". The region had nothing to do with it, his choices had EVERYTHING to do with it.

  • dixieboy Nov 5, 2010

    He's a child killer - he should die in return. Can you imagine what must have been going through that poor little boys mind when he was being suffocated by his own father? The absolute worst betrayal.

  • quiltessnz Nov 5, 2010

    I know this man, I've known him for 20 years. He worked in my EMS unit in NYC. He didn't have a mean bone in his body. How can you tell by looking at him that he's mean. He had more pre-hospital saves than anyone in the station. He was a kind and gentle person until he moved down south. When they lived in NY they could afford that house, it's only since they moved down South that things started to go bad for them. Hew as devoted to his family, something must have gone terribly wrong because he was not a mean or vicious person. Please if you don't know for a fact about a person don't accuse or label. It's not fair. You know bad things do happen to good people. I'm not condoning what he did but there must have been some terrible thing that pushed him to do something so bad.

  • pebbles262004 Nov 5, 2010

    LOL, thank you , I think so too!!! He just has that look..HaHa

  • rdmcswai Nov 5, 2010

    Pebbles - Oh yes, I can always tell from someone's photo whether they're 'mean' or not. That makes perfect sense!

  • pebbles262004 Nov 5, 2010

    He should get the death penalty. Just look at his picture. He was a mean man. He was running around on his wife... I guess it was hard to keep up two women..I poor little boy died because of his sorry'ness

  • tjhiggs68 Nov 5, 2010

    Trying to make sense of why they are NOT seeking the death penalty. A childs life was snatched by the hands of his father. Is it because it was not premeditated? Gonna have to research what invokes a death penalty action. hmmmmmmm

  • UPTOP Nov 4, 2010

    His wife has to sell everything in order to survive, which is what should have been done in the beginning !! Than, the poor little baby would be here !!

  • Diabolical Nov 4, 2010

    The guy was on the brink. His wife had a part in this as well, whether she wants to believe it or not. She may have not have committed the crime, but do you think he would of snapped to resort to killing his children if all was happy between them? I think not.

    The guy probably felt that he ran out of options and figured he would take him and his children with him into the next world. [probably in his mind]. Now, she can keep going on her spending spree, racking up more debt because that's what she's going to do. IMO

  • shortcake53 Nov 4, 2010

    His little boy didnt run up all those bills, but he's the only one paying the price. No way can anyone justify this.

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