Man whose brother fatally ingested cocaine rejects plea deal

Deangelo Mitchell could face a minimum 25 years in prison.

Instead of taking a plea deal with the potential for less prison time, Deangelo Mitchell decided to take his chances at trial and fight accusations that he convinced his brother to ingest a fatal dose of cocaine.

The case

The charges

Deangelo Mitchell is charged with involuntary manslaughter, trafficking cocaine and distribution of cocaine.

Offer on the table

Mitchell rejected a plea deal made by the prosecution that would have sentenced him to 15 years in prison for the drug charges and would have incorporated a five-year sentence for the involuntary manslaughter to be served concurrently.

What’s next

Unless Mitchell accepts the plea offer made by prosecutors by today, it’s off the table and Mitchell’s attorney and prosecutors will begin preparing for the trial against him. He faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison because, if convicted, these drug charges would be Mitchell’s third drug offense, according to State Law Enforcement Division records.

Mitchell, 24, of Clements Avenue in Charleston, rejected a deal offered by prosecutors Thursday that would have kept him locked up for 15 years. He decided instead to go trial, where he could face a minimum of 25 years if he is convicted by a jury, according to a judge.

Mitchell is charged with drug possession, cocaine trafficking and involuntary manslaughter for the death of his brother, 20-year-old Wayne Joshua Mitchell.

In court, Circuit Judge Markley Dennis went to great lengths to warn to Mitchell about the potential ramifications of his decision to reject the plea.

“If you don’t accept the offer, it’s gone,” Dennis told Mitchell. “I’m not trying to frighten you. I’m just trying to tell you straight-up.”

Mitchell said he wanted to see the prosecution’s evidence against him, which he said he has not been able to review.

“Do you have any law degree?” Dennis asked Mitchell. “What benefit would it be for you to analyze anything?”

Mitchell answered, “They ain’t never get no drugs from me.”

Dennis made sure Mitchell’s attorney, Robert Howe, went over the deal carefully with his client. “As thoroughly as possible,” Howe said.

Because Mitchell rejected the plea offer, the case will be placed on the docket for trial. There is no indication yet when it might go before a jury.

Mitchell and his brother were arrested on the night of Nov. 30, 2011, on cocaine trafficking charges. On a video made of the two brothers handcuffed and sitting in the back seat of a North Charleston police cruiser, they can be seen and heard discussing their arrests.

Although both suspects are cuffed behind their backs, the video appears to show Deangelo Mitchell contorting to pull something from the rear portion of his clothes. He passes it to his brother, who manages to get his hands by his sides and place the object to his mouth. Wayne Mitchell then appears to be chewing something.

Wayne Mitchell suffered a seizure and died less than an hour later.

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten has said her investigation backs police conclusions concerning the death. She said an autopsy and toxicology tests determined that Wayne Mitchell died from acute cocaine toxicity.

After his arrest, Deangelo Mitchell, who had been out on bail, was rearrested on July 26, 2012, on a charge of violating the conditions of his bail. He has remained in jail since.

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