By Ken Little
A 17-year-old charged with attempted first-degree murder in connection with the stabbing last fall of a South Greene High School student will be prosecuted as an adult, Greene County Juvenile Court Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr. ruled this morning.
Jacob Mitchell has been held in a juvenile detention facility since the Sept. 24, 2013, school cafeteria stabbing of 15-year-old Daniel A. Birchfield Jr., who recovered from three stab wounds and returned to school.
Bailey’s ruling means that Mitchell, who was 16-years-old when the stabbing occurred and is now 17, will be transferred to the jurisdiction of Greene County Criminal Court, and could serve time in a state prison if convicted of the attempted murder charge.
Mitchell will be confined to an area of the Greene County Detention Center where he will have no contact with adult inmates.
Bailey, who said the decision to transfer Mitchell’s case to the adult justice system was the most difficult in his 7-and-a-half years as a judge, set bond at $80,000.
Mitchell’s case will go before a Greene County Grand Jury, Assistant District Attorney General Cecil Mills Jr. said.
As Bailey announced his decision concluding the transfer hearing, Mitchell’s mother began sobbing in the courtroom. Mitchell also lost his composure, put his face in his hands, and shed tears.
Fourteen defense and prosecution witnesses testified Tuesday over the span of eight hours at the transfer hearing, and numerous evidence exhibits were introduced to the court that Bailey said he needed time to review. He reserved judgment for this morning.
The judge told Mitchell his actions and statements leading up to the school stabbing was “troubling.”
Mitchell had told friends before the stabbing he was very angry that the victim was seeing his ex-girlfriend and “something was going to happen today.”
“You could have killed (Birchfield). You could have severed his spine and paralyzed him for life,” Bailey told Mitchell.
Had Mitchell remained in the juvenile system, he would have been released when he turned 19.
“He’s a 17-year-old who doesn’t know how to handle rejection and conflict and loss of a girlfriend,” Bailey said. “Thankfully, most 17-year-olds don’t react that way.”