A Cedar Rapids man, who was acquitted in October of first-degree murder, will now spend seven years in prison for assaulting a man in 2010.
Johnathan Mitchell, 35, pleaded guilty in October to assault causing serious injury without intent to cause injury, a felony, and forgery, an aggravated misdemeanor, in a separate case also in 2010. He was sentenced Friday to five years in prison on the assault charge and two years on the forgery charge. The two sentences were ran consecutively for a total of seven years in prison.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Ian Thornhill also ordered Mitchell to pay victim restitution of more than $2,5000 to Arvin Druvenga, who suffered a serious skull fracture, and the Iowa Crime victim Assistance Program. Druvenga’s injuries resulted in more than $2,000 in medical bills but most of it was paid by insurance and the crime fund.
Mitchell at the plea hearing admitted he beat Druvenga with a wooden handled tool Sept. 25, 2010 while Druvenga and his wife were visiting Cedar Rapids to watch a relative play in a Coe College football game. Druvenga and his wife were watching the game from their parked car on 15th Street.
Mitchell told the judge at the October hearing that he didn’t intend to seriously injure Druvenga.
According to police reports, Druvenga suffered skull fractures, a large cut on the top of his head that required eight staples and numerous skin abrasions. He also had to wear a neck brace for several weeks as result of the assault.
Druvenga didn’t attend Friday’s sentencing and declined to make a victim’s impact statement.
Mitchell also declined to comment during the hearing Friday.
According to police reports, Druvenga said a man, later identified as Mitchell, was sitting on his porch across the street from where their car was parked that day and he was “yelling things,” which they assumed were about the game. Druvenga said he then got out of his car and came around to the passenger door to talk to his wife and it was at this point Mitchell walked over, raised a large stick with a metal end and started beating him, hitting him in the lower back.
According to the police report, Druvenga remembered being hit twice and then his memory faded but his wife gave the same account of the incident. Officers also interviewed three other witnesses who said Mitchell beat Druvenga.
Cedar Rapids Police officer Thai Nguyen wrote in his report that after Mitchell was arrested, he started screaming at him and Druvenga, “I’m from this neighborhood, where are you from? This is war.”
Druvenga submitted a victim’s impact statement to the court in 2011, when Mitchell initially planned to plead guilty in the assault. The pre-sentencing report was delayed back in 2011, so Mitchell decided not to plead at that time.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Jason Bessler said Mitchell has a history of mental illness, which played a factor in the assault, but the plea agreement ensured prison time for Mitchell. He will be given jail credit for time served pending the assault charge, so Besler couldn’t say how much time Mitchell will actually serve. That will be up to corrections and parole officials.
Mitchell was acquitted in October by a Story County jury for first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the homicide of cab driver Cathy Stickley, 54, of Cedar Rapids, who was stabbed to death April 29, 2011. According to testimony, Stickley was stabbed 18 times in the neck and head. Mitchell’s prints were found in Stickley’s blood in the cab.
Mitchell was out on bond pending the Druvenga assault when Stickley was killed. Mitchell during the trial admitted that he stole money from Stickley to buy crack cocaine that night but he said she was already dead, lying outside the cab on the ground in the 1500 block alley between Second and Third avenues SE.
Mitchell was the only suspect in the case and the case hasn’t been reopened.