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Former Columbus police detective pleads guilty to federal charges after murder acquittal

Former Columbus vice officer Andrew Mitchell was acquitted on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter stemming from the August 2018 shooting death of Donna Castleberry, 23.
Former Columbus vice officer Andrew Mitchell was acquitted on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter stemming from the August 2018 shooting death of Donna Castleberry, 23.

A former vice detective with the Columbus Division of Police has pleaded guilty to federal charges after he was acquitted of murder on state charges relating to a woman's 2018 death.

Andrew Mitchell, 59, pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of depriving individuals of their civil rights while acting under color of law and one count of obstructing justice, according to the United States Attorney Southern District of Ohio.

Mitchell was charged and arrested in March 2019.

Court documents state Mitchell that in July 2017, Mitchell picked up a sex worker in the area of Sullivant and Whitethorne avenues in the Hilltop neighborhood.

At the time, Mitchell was dressed in street clothes and an unmarked police vehicle. Officials said he informed the sex worker that he was a police officer and acted as though he was checking to see if there were any outstanding warrants on the victim.

Authorities said Mitchell handcuffed the victim to the doorknob of his vehicle. He then drove the victim to a nearby parking lot, where he held the victim against her will before releasing her.

Mitchell committed a similar crime in September 2017, where he picked up another sex worker in the Hilltop neighborhood, while dressed in street clothes, officials said. He began talking to the victim about money in exchange for sexual activity before he identified himself as a police officer and stated that the woman would be arrested.

Mitchell kidnapped the woman and drove her to Lindbergh Park, according to officials.

An investigation showed that Mitchell directed several people to help him clean out a rental property he owned on Denune Avenue. The people got rid of evidence including photos, clothes, bedding and rental documents. They also extensively cleaned the rental property.

Under the plea agreement, Mitchell is recommended to spend between seven and 11 years in prison.

Mitchell's guilty plea comes after he was acquitted in April after being tried for a second time on state charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter related to the death of 23-year-old Donna Castleberry.

The not-guilty verdict was rendered after a jury was deadlocked during a previous trial in April 2022, which resulted in a mistrial.

During the April trial, Franklin County Assistant Prosecutor Sheryl Pritchard argued the evidence showed Castleberry was attempting to flee to the backseat of an unmarked police car when Mitchell shot and killed her in August 2018.

Mitchell testified during the most recent trial that when he attempted to put Castleberry in handcuffs, she resisted arrest, choked Mitchell and cut him with a knife before he shot her six times.

Mitchell said on the stand that he feared for his life during the altercation and made the choice to shoot Castleberry, despite not being able to fully see her, after she got behind him in the vehicle.

Jared Clayton Brown is excited to join the WOSU News team a decade into his journalism career, which has included stops in several markets including Louisville and Atlanta.