Suspect in 2011 crime wave back in Mesa County

Accused in fatal child-abuse case

Dartanin D. Mitchell

A man accused in a crime wave in Mesa County during 2011 appeared Tuesday in a local courtroom to face charges.

Dartanin D. Mitchell, 35, may have his two local felony cases set for trial during his next court appearance on Tuesday before District Judge Richard Gurley.

Mitchell was returned to Mesa County after being sentenced on April 1 to serve 16 years in prison in connection with four armed robberies in Denver and Jefferson counties.

Mitchell is charged locally with child abuse resulting in the death of his 5-week-old son, Lucius Lee Mitchell, who died on June 12, 2011, after being removed from life support at Children’s Hospital. Grand Junction firefighters were called May 27, 2011, on a report of a 5-week-old boy not conscious or breathing at 2910 Bunting Ave.

Doctors at St. Mary’s Hospital observed severe trauma to the boy’s head, including bleeding to the eyes and in the brain, which was suspected “non-accidental” trauma, an arrest warrant affidavit said.

Mitchell was formally charged in connection with his son’s death after his arrest in Denver, when he was accused in four armed robberies between Nov. 20 and Nov. 30, 2011.

A former parenting mentor employed by Family First, a Hilltop Community Resources program, Mitchell in 2011 was accused of twice burglarizing his former workplace office, located inside the Mesa County Workforce Center at 2897 North Ave., and stealing vehicles owned by the organization.

Mitchell was free on bond on Sept. 27, 2011, when he failed to appear at a plea hearing in the burglary cases.

Mitchell and his then-wife, Jennifer, were arrested Oct. 9, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn., inside a van allegedly stolen from Hilltop.

Headed back to Mesa County, Mitchell escaped on Nov. 16, 2011, by stealing a private transport vehicle in Topeka, Kan., when the driver stopped at a gas station to use the restroom. Mitchell was wearing handcuffs and shackles at the time.

He was finally arrested Dec. 6, 2011, for the Denver-area robberies, during which Denver police dubbed him the “crummy cookie bandit” —  Mitchell reportedly ordered cookies before robbing a Subway in Denver.

Mitchell, who was outfitted Tuesday in a red jail jumpsuit in an indication he’s being held in maximum security at the Mesa County Jail, is unable to post a bond because of his current state prison sentence.


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