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James Raphael Mitchell Gets 35 Years to Life for Killing Girlfriend with a Baseball Bat

San Francisco – from – A Marin Superior Court judge sentenced convicted killer James Mitchell on Tuesday to 35 years to life in prison in the beating death of girlfriend Danielle Keller in Novato two years ago.

Judge Kelly Simmons handed Mitchell the maximum sentence possible: 26 years to life in prison for first-degree murder and nine more years for the kidnapping of the couple’s 1-year-old daughter.

In comments shortly before his sentencing, Mitchell, 29, an heir to the Mitchell Brothers adult entertainment fortune, called the court case “a circus” and declared, “I am not responsible for Danielle’s death.”

Earlier, as Mitchell glowered 20 feet away, the victim’s mother, Claudia Stevens, reading a statement, called Mitchell “a man-child” with “a skewed sense of entitlement.”

“His flagrant dismissal of the law cost my daughter her life,” Stevens said.

A jury convicted Mitchell on July 12 — the two-year anniversary of the crime — of first-degree murder, domestic corporal injury, kidnapping, child abduction, child endangerment and stalking.

Authorities said Mitchell, who had a history of abusing Keller, drove from his house in Pittsburg to Keller’s apartment in Novato and repeatedly clubbed the 29-year-old woman in the head with a softball bat. Then he fled with their 1-year-old baby before being arrested in Citrus Heights.

Mitchell, who testified in his own defense, said he arrived at Keller’s apartment and fought off two unidentified men who had apparently committed the murder. But Mitchell could not explain how Keller’s blood got spattered on his pants at close range.

Mitchell is the son of Jim Mitchell and the nephew of Artie Mitchell, who launched an adult entertainment empire. Jim Mitchell killed Artie Mitchell in 1991 in Corte Madera, served a manslaughter sentence at San Quentin State Prison, and died on July 12, 2007.


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