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Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder
In shooting death of his wife
Friday, June 7, 2013
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
A Henry County man pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony in connection with the Jan. 31 death of his wife.
With his legs and hands chained, David Leon Mitchell leaned forward into the microphone at the Henry County Circuit Court to respond “guilty” as each of the two indictments against him were read in connection with the death of his wife, Linda Sue Mitchell.
Judge David Williams accepted the pleas.
Andrew Nester, chief prosecutor in the Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, said on Jan. 29, a dispatcher in the 911 Center received a phone call around 11:14 p.m. from a man at 224 Bittersweet Drive who identified himself as Leon Mitchell.
“I shot my wife,” the man told the dispatcher, Nester said at Thursday’s court proceeding.
The man then made “numerous” other statements that also implicated him, Nester said, but he did not elaborate.
A Henry County sheriff’s investigator arrived at the scene and found Linda Sue Mitchell lying on the bedroom floor to the right of a bed in the Mitchells’ home on Bittersweet Drive “with obvious trauma” to her head, Nester said.
She was taken to Memorial Hospital in Martinsville by the Bassett Volunteer Rescue Squad and later was air lifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she was listed in critical condition.
Linda Sue Mitchell, 57, died two days later, on Jan. 31, Nester said.
Initially, David Leon Mitchell was charged with aggravated malicious wounding. After his wife died, the charge was changed to first-degree murder, and a charge of using a firearm in the commission of a felony was added. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Authorities searched the home and seized a number of items, including a .38 Ruger revolver, Nester said. He added that sheriff’s investigator Steve Raines recovered “at least one bullet from the home.”
In a statement to authorities, Mitchell said his wife had been in bed when he shot her, according to Nester, who then quoted Mitchell’s description of the incident.
“ ‘It’s just plain murder,’ ” Nester said Mitchell told authorities. After making that statement, Nester said that Mitchell “indicated he should get the electric chair” for the slaying.
Mitchell also told authorities he had had “three swigs of Canadian whiskey” the night of the shooting, and investigators found evidence of alcohol in the home, including “piles of beer cans.”
According to testimony, Mitchell said he thought he shot his wife three times, Nester said.
During the autopsy, Nester said a state Medical Examiner found that Linda Sue Mitchell died from a gunshot wound to the head and the shoulder, and recovered shells from both areas.
Defense Attorney Pat Sharpe said the entire situation was “tragic ... Alcohol and prescription medications were deeply involved.”
Mitchell “has very little memory of what happened that night, and has stated many times that he wants to die,” Sharpe said. He added the family was loving and reiterated the slaying and charges constituted “a tragic situation.”
Mitchell will be sentenced in August, according to Williams, who noted the second-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years, and there is a three-year mandatory minimum sentence on the firearm charge.