Trial of mom charged in baby's death delayed

Lack of expert defense witness cause for continuance
By Tanya Mitchell | Sep 19, 2012
Source: File image Katrina Mitchell

Belfast — The child endangerment trial of a Frankfort mother involving the mauling death of her 7-month-old daughter was expected to begin at Waldo County Superior Court next month, but her attorney now says the trial won't likely take place until next year.

Aaron Fethke of Searsport, the attorney representing 30-year-old Katrina Mitchell of Frankfort, said the case will be continued because an expert witness will not be available to testify at the trial until sometime after Thanksgiving.

"We're anxious to get this tried at this point," said Fethke in a telephone interview Monday, Sept. 17.

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.

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.

Mitchell pleaded not guilty to the charge at her initial court appearance after her arrest. She has been free on $1,000 cash bail since July 18, 2011, according to court records.

Class D endangering the welfare of a child carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail, two years' probation and a $2,000 fine, according to Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker.

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