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Former Columbus police vice officer Andrew Mitchell to spend 6 more years in federal prison

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

Former Columbus police vice officer Andrew Mitchell will spend six more years in federal prison.

Judge Edmund Sargus sentenced Mitchell to 11 years in prison and 8 years of parole. Mitchell has been in jail since 2019 and that time will count towards his time served.

Mitchell pleaded guilty in December to one count of depriving the rights of someone under color of law and one count of obstruction of justice. Mitchell had been accused of forcing two women to have sex with him in exchange for not being arrested, but the charges did not reflect those allegations.

Mitchell was marched into Sargus' downtown Columbus courtroom in handcuffs and an orange Butler County Jail jumpsuit. He was flanked by defense attorneys Mark Collins and Kaitlyn Stephens during the proceedings and some family was in the courtroom.

The plea deal reached between Mitchell's team and U.S. Attorney Kevin Kelley and his office called for a 7-to-11 year sentence. Sargus went with the maximum sentence after Collins asked for the minimum and attorneys on the opposing side asked for the maximum.

Mitchell, 60, gave a statement and first apologized to the victims and his family and said he accepts full responsibility for his actions.

"(I am) a true and remorseful person," Mitchell said.

He said if he could go back in time, he wouldn't have done what he did.

Collins argued Mitchell's age, medical history and the impact on his family, including a young daughter, should be taken into account by the judge.

Kelley refuted these points and said he was personally insulted by Mitchell's age possibly being a factor in a lesser sentence. He said the bureau of prisons provide adequate medical care to prisoners.

"Anytime a defendant gets sentenced there's a collateral damage and his family and the child is obviously collateral damage, but the reality is there's way more damage that Mitchell himself did. So I'm frankly not very sympathetic," Kelley told reporters after the sentencing.

Kelley also read a statement from a victim of Mitchell, who he did not name. The statement was a letter directed toward Mitchell.

The woman said in her statement that at 20 years old she wanted help, but Mitchell forced her to do things she didn't want to do.

"We do recover and I hope you do too. They asked me how much time you should get. There’s no time frame for someone who hurts young vulnerable women and men," the woman said.

She said she has a family now and is three years sober. She signed off the statement "from the girl you never thought would recover."

After hearing the arguments from Mitchell, his attorneys and the prosecution, Sargus said police are meant to protect the public, which Mitchell failed to do.

He said what happened here hurts both police and the U.S. Constitution itself.

"(The victims) were people the law should protect," Sargus said.

Kelley said he was pleased with the sentence and what is says about how the court viewed the impacts on Mitchell's two victims.

"(Judge Sargus) was faced with some very difficult circumstances, made some tough decisions, and I think he made the right ones. He clearly believed in what the victims had to say. And that's the whole story of this case, is that the victims were believed," Kelley said.

Collins told reporters Mitchell was disappointed in the verdict, but is prepared to serve the rest of his sentence.

"We're not surprised with the 11 years. Our client understands it. He's a bit disappointed, but he's going to do exactly what he has to do and continue to be the model inmate," Collins said.

Collins said many times prisoners are let out early on good behavior, which he argued Mitchell has achieved.

Collins and his team asked Sargus if Mitchell can be imprisoned in a facility near Columbus. The judge said he would recommend that, but Collins said it is ultimately not up to Sargus to make that decision.

This sentencing comes less than a year after Mitchell was found not guilty of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the 2018 shooting death of 23-year-old Donna Castleberry.

Castleberry's sister Bobbi McCalla was at the proceedings Thursday. She told reporters afterward Castleberry's family is grateful the judge saw the egregiousness of Mitchell's crimes.

"There is a small bit of justice in this sentence just because we know that. Finally, an officer in Columbus is held accountable for his actions. And hopefully this is setting precedent for more officers, to know that they will be held accountable for not upholding the law," McCalla said.

After Mitchell is released, he will be placed on eight years of supervised release.

Jared Clayton Brown joined the WOSU News team in November 2022. He spent seven years working for the Fox and NBC affiliate stations in Louisville and three years with the CBS affiliate station in Columbus.
George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.