Prosecutors won't seek death penalty in Blue Lakes crash; bond set at $2 million

Prosecutors won't seek death penalty in Blue Lakes crash; bond set at $2 million

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Cedric Mitchell

Under the watchful eye of Twin Falls County Sheriff's deputies, right, and Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs, Cedric Mitchell enters the courtroom for his bond hearing.

TWIN FALLS — Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty in the case of a man charged with first-degree murder in a fatal crash on Blue Lakes Boulevard in June.

Security was high in the courtroom Oct. 25 when Cedric Sebastian Mitchell, 35, appeared before Fifth District Judge Roger Harris at the Twin Falls County Judicial Annex.

Mitchell had been held without bond since the June 7 incident where he struck the rear of another pickup waiting for the stoplight at Heyburn Avenue and Blue Lakes Boulevard.

Police say Mitchell was driving his GMC Sierra at nearly 80 mph when he slammed into the back of Dwayne Steiner’s pickup, killing passenger Maryann Steiner.

The Steiners’ pickup then struck other cars in the intersection, injuring several other people.

Dwayne Steiner suffered serious injuries and continues to recuperate.

Mitchell was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder and five counts of aggravated battery.

Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs told Harris the state does not intend to pursue the death penalty in Mitchell’s case, meaning a bond needed to be set.

Mitchell’s attorney, Jeb Bond, had filed a motion to reduce bond.

Bond presented information about Mitchell’s ties to the community, with Mitchell’s wife, friends and family filling half the courtroom.

Many wore red ribbons to show their support.

Mitchell was described as a hard worker, raising eight children with his wife. Mitchell also played on Twin Falls’ semi-professional football team the past four years, Bond said.

Bond referenced a traumatic brain injury Mitchell suffered from the crash.

“It’s our contention he was having some sort of medical event at the time of the crash,” Bond said.

Loebs countered that statements Mitchell made after the crash indicated the act was no accident.

Loebs quoted from witness statements and the grand jury transcript, where others heard Mitchell say, “God take me. I want to die,” and “I wanted to bring the rapture.”

While Bond tried to discount Mitchell’s extensive criminal record from Arizona as poor decisions made by a young man, Loebs emphasized the repeated assaults of law enforcement personnel and domestic violence charges as proof Mitchell is violent, has a disregard for authority and a willingness to attack complete strangers.

Loebs also played a video from the Twin Falls County Jail, during which Mitchell is seen acting out and swearing at his public defender and others after his initial arraignment July 3.

Another video, taken from the McDonald’s security camera at Heyburn Avenue and Blue Lakes Boulevard, showed the crash itself.

Bond then told Harris, “He’s not a violent person,” and requested a bond of $50,000.

Loebs asked for $2 million in bond.

With five deputies and a bailiff at hand, Harris ruled in the state’s favor, citing the likelihood of Mitchell’s conviction leading to a likelihood of flight if Mitchell was released on a lower bond.

Mitchell’s trial is set to begin Jan. 8.

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