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County man serving life for ’04 murder files appeal with high court

May 9, 2008
LISBON — A Salem man serving 24 years to life in prison for the murder of Bradley Van Horn in a Salem church parking lot in December 2004 will take his case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Shane Mitchell, now 22, formerly of Fifth Street, filed a notice of appeal Thursday with the state’s high court to challenge a March 19 decision by the 7th District Court of Appeals, which agreed with his conviction and sentence in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

According to the document filed, the case “raises a substantial constitutional question, is of great public or great general interest and involves a felony.”

A jury in September 2005 found Mitchell guilty of murder, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence related to the Dec. 11, 2004 slaying of Van Horn, another Salem resident, who was found beaten to death behind the Salem First Christian Church.

Judge C. Ashley Pike sentenced him to 15 years to life for the murder, six years for the robbery and three years for the tampering charge, with the sentences to be served consecutively.

Mitchell’s co-defendant in the murder, 20-year-old Richard Forrester of Lisbon, pled guilty to murder and received a sentence of 15 years to life under an agreement which required him to testify against Mitchell during the trial.

In the initial appeal, Mitchell claimed several errors were made in the trial, which the appellate court found to be without merit. He raised issues of ineffective counsel, the use of inadmissable opinions on his credibility, the use of photographs of the victim’s child, the seating of people off of the street for the jury when the jury pool was depleted, claimed the testimony of the county coroner was hearsay since another county performed the autopsy and claimed he was prejudiced due to one juror knowing a relative of a witness. He also claimed the jury should have been instructed on a lesser known offense, involuntary manslaughter.


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