Local News

Longtime Durham ADA off the job

Posted December 20, 2010 12:40 p.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2010 7:36 p.m. EST

— A longtime assistant prosecutor in Durham County has been dismissed from his post.

District Attorney Tracey Cline said Monday that Mitchell Garrell is no longer working in the office and that his appointment as assistant district attorney would not be renewed in January.

She declined to comment on why, and Garrell could not be reached Monday.

Garrell prosecuted violent crimes and homicides in Durham for the past 15 years. In 2008, he ran against Cline, a sex crimes prosecutor in Durham, and two others for the district attorney position.

Most recently, Garrell was assigned to prosecute Derrick Michael Allen, who was convicted in the 1998 death and sexual assault of a 2-year-old girl who died of shaken baby syndrome.

Allen’s conviction was among more than 200 being re-examined after an independent audit found State Bureau of Investigation agents failed to report blood evidence in the cases.

A Superior Court judge dismissed Allen’s case earlier this month.

Garrell also prosecuted the high-profile 2005 murder trial of Robert Petrick, who was convicted of killing his wife, Janine Sutphen, and disposing of her body in Falls Lake in Raleigh.

Some who have worked with Garrell said Monday that they were surprised by the news, calling him a good trial lawyer.

“I always found him to be ethical, decent and fair,” said Durham defense attorney Michael Driver, who worked with Garrell for many years. “He was able to disagree without being disagreeable. He was always a strong advocate for the state’s position but did it in a fair way.”