Mitchell bound over for arraignment on manslaughter charge

February 19, 2020 | Courts|Featured|Police

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PERRY — “We will get through this,” said Blackwell Police Lt. John Mitchell, today after Noble County Associate  Judge Nikki Leach ruled that he will be  arraigned on a manslaughter charge.

Mitchell was indicted by a state grand jury in Nov. 22, 2019, on a second degree murder charge or in the alternative manslaughter in the first degree, in the shooting death of 24-year-old Michael Godsey, (pronounced Michelle.)

(see story)

After Wednesday’s full day of testimony, Judge Leach asked prosecutor Jason Hicks and defense attorney Gary James to comment on a state statute that addresses crimes and punishment.

A host of law enforcement vehicles were parked outside the Noble County Courthouse Wednesday as fellow officers showed support for Blackwell police Lt. john Mitchell.

Hicks, the Stephens County District Attorney, said that when Godsey stopped the vehicle she submitted to law enforcement.

“She wasn’t going at a high rate of speed,” said Hicks. 

Hicks said Mitchell did not know exactly what happened at the Godsey home before the shooting.

He broke the incident down into three shootings by Mitchell. He said if the first seven shots fired are analyzed, they are okay.

“But when she turned that corner, she wasn’t given a chance to roll the window down, surrender or do anything,” said Hicks. “Law enforcement has an obligation to see what is going to happen.”

He referred to testimony given the day before by Blackwell police officer Keith Denton. 

“You heard Denton say that he did not feel it was necessary to open fire after the truck stopped. We have three officers who didn’t engage in gunfire and one who did. That should speak volumes to the court loudly.”

James, Mitchell’s defense attorney, disagreed with Hicks’ assessment of the incident and said the law is designed for justified use of deadly force.

He referred to Tennesse vs. Garner, 1985. He said in that case an unarmed fleeing burglar was shot in the back by police.

“The facts are Godsey shot at Tyler Kroger and I believe that if he hadn’t put the car in reverse he would have got shot.”

James said at the time Mitchell knew that shots had been fired.

“Office Denton engaged shots with Godsey on Main Street,” said James. “The state has not called Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents to the stand. Denton testified that Godsey was a violent fleeing felon and for the state to say she had submitted to law enforcement is almost laughable. Let’s go back when Denton showed up to the house and him telling the court,  he should have put six rounds in the windshield. Godsey never submitted. “

James told the court that Denton fired the last three of the 69 rounds fired and that there has been no determination as to who fired the fatal shots.

“Where would we be if she had went on to shoot another vehicle head on,” asked James. “Our laws were designed to follow Tennesse vs. Garner.

James said Godsey fired at four people, her mother, Kroger and officers Denton and Mitchell.

“If police can’t fire at her in this case, when can they fire at her,” he asked.

Leach ruled that the court finds that there was enough evidence to bind Mitchell over for arraignment on a manslaughter charge, leaving some in the courtroom, “flabbergasted.”

Godsey’s mother broke down in tears and was unable to comment.

Leach scheduled the arraignment for March 18 in Kay County before Judge Lee Turner.

After the ruling, James said he respects Leach but disagrees with the ruling.  He added that President Donald Trump has been made aware of the case and has held meetings about the case. James said after the arraignment he will file a motion to quash. “There are a lot of steps along the way before this gets to trial,” he said.

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