After two days of jury deliberation, the man suspected of killing Novato resident Danielle Keller with a softball bat exactly two years ago was convicted of first-degree murder Tuesday in Marin County Superior Court.
of Pittsburg, heir to the San Francisco-based Mitchell Brothers pornography empire, faces 34 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 16, said Deputy District Attorney Charles Cacciatore.
Mitchell, 29, also was found guilty of stalking and domestic violence. The jury did not convict Mitchell of the special circumstance of murder during a kidnapping.
Cacciatore said the verdict reflects "the seriousness with which we treat domestic violence cases here in Marin County."
"We want to make sure the victims take steps to get out of violent relationships and know they will have the assistance of the Marin County courts when they make that decision," Cacciatore said.
Mitchell said in court last week that two other men attacked him outside of Keller's home on the day she was found beaten to death. He told the jury he was not a murderer.
The verdict was delivered exactly two years — almost to the hour — after the killing on Diablo Court, across Diablo Avenue from . The verdict came four years to the day after Mitchell's father died, which Mitchell testified troubled him greatly.
Mitchell testified that he took his 1-year-old daughter away from the Diablo Court home of Keller, the daughter’s mother, for the baby’s own safety following the attack and because he didn’t want to deal with the police since he was on probation.
Mitchell, a part-time college student a film director, has been in jail since he was arrested in suburban Sacramento on the night of the killing following an Amber Alert manhunt. When he was arrested, he had blood on his clothes and his blood-sprayed daughter was in the car without a car seat or diapers. The baby was unharmed in the incident and lives with a relative.
Mitchell was charged with killing Keller, 29, by repeatedly hitting her head with a softball bat and taking the baby from under her bludgeoned body. During his testimony, he said he didn't know how his blood got on the bat.
Mitchell testified that he fought off two men who killed Keller and tried to take their daughter from the residence as he arrived to celebrate the girl's first birthday.
The prosecution claimed the slaying was the culmination of a series of domestic violence incidents committed by Mitchell against Keller. Mitchell admitted to habitual drug use over a 10-year-period before the killing.
— Bay City News Service. Brent Ainsworth of Novato Patch contributed to this report.