Jurors Call for Life Term in Old Nevada Murder Case

A Trinidad native arrested more than 20 years ago for a murder and later released should be imprisoned for life without possible parole, jurors decided at the conclusion of his trial.

David Winfield Mitchell, 62, faces formal sentencing Sept. 10 in Carson City District Court for the beating, rape and strangulation of Sheila Jo Harris, 18, in 1982.

Courtroom spectators applauded as the jury's decision was announced Wednesday, a half-hour after jurors heard from Harris' mother and sisters and also heard about Mitchell's previous prison sentences for rapes and assaults on women.

On Tuesday the same jury found Mitchell guilty of first-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon. DNA evidence in the form of semen on the victim's clothes and body linked Mitchell to the crime. He had been arrested in 1986 for the killing, but the earlier charges were dropped for lack of evidence.

During sentencing proceedings Wednesday, Ed Heddy, a retired Carson City Sheriff's sergeant, told jurors that Mitchell spent 10 years in prison for the rapes of three women in New York. Mitchell was paroled in 1978.

Jurors also were told about a 1979 attack by a knife-wielding Mitchell on two women in their Santa Clara, Calif., apartment. They were able to fight him off, and Mitchell was captured nine months later. He got a three-year prison term for assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment.

Public Defender Diane Crow said that Mitchell asked her to not speak to the jury on his behalf.

"It's his one act of contrition in this matter," she said, asking that the jury show him mercy.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)