Jury selection starts 9 a.m. Tuesday in Story County District Court for a man accused of stabbing to death a Cedar Rapids cab driver in 2011.
Johnathan Mitchell, 35, of Cedar Rapids, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery. He is accused of killing Cathy Stickley, 54, a Century Cab driver, April 29, 2011. According to a criminal complaint, Stickley’s body was found by her vehicle in the 1500 block alley between 2nd and 3rd avenues SE. Stickley died from multiple stab wounds to her neck and head.
Mitchell was initially only charged with first-degree murder but after depositions were taken, more evidence became available that this started out as a robbery, so the robbery charge was added in 2012, according to court documents.
Mitchell received a change of venue from Linn County based on pretrial publicity, which Mitchell claimed prevented him from getting a fair and impartial jury.
Jury selection is expected to take a day and a half. Opening statements could start Wednesday afternoon. Follow Gazette Reporter Trish Mehaffey’s live coverage from the courtroom when testimony begins.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.
Mitchell’s first trial started more than a year ago, last August, but ended in mistrial during jury selection because the prosecutor had a serious medical condition and couldn’t continue the trial. There were several continuances before that and a few after the mistrial.
Mitchell also is charged in a separate case from 2010 with beating a man near Coe College. He is charged with willful injury, causing bodily injury, and was out on bond in that case during the time Stickley was killed. He has remained under a $1 million bond after the murder charge.
The 6th Judicial Department of Correctional Services and a judge took some criticism because Mitchell was set to plead guilty to the assault charge a few days before Stickley was killed. A pre-sentencing report was delayed and Mitchell’s defense attorney hadn’t seen it, so a judge granted a continuance.
Sixth Judicial District Chief Judge Patrick Grady told The Gazette in 2011 after the homicide that the judge did nothing wrong in delaying the sentencing because a pre-sentencing report prepared by the department should be available to the attorneys three days or more before sentencing. If an attorney hadn’t seen the report it wouldn’t be uncommon for a judge to continue it, he said.
Mitchell’s trial in the willful injury case is set Nov. 18.