Mom pleads no contest in mauling death of infant daughter

By Tanya Mitchell | Dec 19, 2012
Source: File image Katrina Mitchell

Belfast — A Frankfort mother accused of endangering the welfare of her infant daughter after the family dog mauled the child to death in April 2011 pleaded no contest to that charge at Fifth District Court in Belfast Tuesday, Dec. 18.

According to Waldo County Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker, the terms of the plea deal state 31-year-old Katrina Mitchell will be subject to a sentence of 364 days in jail with all but three months suspended and one year of probation upon her release. The plea agreement also includes Walker's recommendations that Mitchell undergo substance abuse and psychological counseling as part of her probation, as well as refrain from using or possessing drugs or alcohol and submit to random searches and tests for those substances.

According to court records, Mitchell was arrested on a charge of Class D endangering the welfare of a child in July 2011 after a police investigation determined the family dog — an 89-pound Rottweiler named Hannibal — mauled her 7-month-old daughter, Annabelle, to death on the night of April 12, 2011. Additionally, police alleged Mitchell was intoxicated and "passed out" at the time of her daughter's death.

An affidavit from Maine State Police Detective Adam Kelley stated Mitchell was “hitting, kicking and slapping” ambulance attendants who had responded to her home on the night of April 12, and that she was so unsteady on her feet that a police officer and an ambulance worker had to hold her up by her arms to get her from the porch to the ambulance.

Court records show Mitchell told police she had her first drink of beer at about 3 p.m., but that she took between three or four shots of vodka after she called her husband and 911 to report her daughter's death.

Later that night, according to Kelley’s affidavit, police interviewed Mitchell at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast, where Mitchell stated her baby fell asleep on one end of the couch and that she was asleep on the other end of the same couch.

“Katrina [Mitchell] stated that her dog, Hannibal, attacked and killed Annabelle [Mitchell], but she did not know how, because there was no noise,” stated Kelley in his affidavit.

Court records also outline the findings of Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Ferenc, who conducted the autopsy on Annabelle Mitchell’s body. In his statements to Kelley, Ferenc concluded the child would have been able to audibly cry for help, based on the nature of her injuries.

“Many of the claw marks were associated with hemorrhage, which is indicative of Annabelle [Mitchell] being alive for at least part of the mauling, and she would have been capable of crying and/or screaming due to pain," Kelley wrote in the affidavit.

Walker said the three-month portion of Mitchell's sentence represents a cap, meaning Mitchell may argue for less time served on the day of her sentencing hearing, which Walker said has been scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m.

Walker said Mitchell has been doing "very well" adhering to conditions of her release in the 18 months she's been out on bail, and she has also worked well with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Mitchell's attorney, Aaron Fethke, said his client is hoping for closure at this time.

"Katrina [Mitchell] and her family are looking forward to putting this entire ordeal behind them," he said.

 

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