WEWOKA, Okla. – Robert Mitchell was convicted and sentenced to murder at the age of 16.
He was charged with the burglary and deadly stabbing of his 90-year-old neighbor.
Now, his family is fighting to get him released 25 years later.
“Today, Robert is going to have a hearing of a post conviction to see if he could be released from prison,” said his sister, Pearl Seaboy.
Mitchell is now in his 40s. He was just 15 years old when he was arrested for murdering Myrtle McGeehee in Seminole County on indigenous land.
“My brother was imprisoned at the age of 15 for murder, he’s held on his innocence and we fully support him,” said Seaboy.
The night of the killing, Mitchell told police he noticed McGeehee’s lights on, so he went over to check it out, only to find her dead.
The young man called the woman’s family and police.
Prosecutors said Mitchell went there to rob and kill his elderly neighbor.
The only evidence – a bloody sock and shoe that were never tested for DNA.
“There was no DNA evidence, you know, there was so much that was missing from his original hearing and why he got such a harsh punishment at the age of 15,” said Seaboy.
Now, the family is hoping some recent United States Supreme Court rulings can help get him released.
“The ruling, subsequently, that life without parole was not appropriate punishment for juvenile killers,” said D.A. Paul Smith.
Smith said Mitchell is in fact guilty of murder.
Smith also said even though the Supreme Court said life without parole, and the death penalty are cruel and unusual punishment for juveniles, there are stipulations.
“They just established a standard that a jury is supposed to find if they impose the life without parole sentence. Where it will not be cruel and unusual punishment for a juvenile killer,” said Smith.
Smith said this means the jury or the finder have to take in consideration the inmate’s past and present criminal history to see which sentence fits.
“The finder needs to determine that they’re not going to be rehabilitated, there’s no chance in being rehabilitated,” said Smith.
Mitchell’s family said they’re holding onto hope.
“What we’re hoping for is, you know, to bring to light to what has happened in the past, especially to all people of color until the indigenous people” Seaboy said.
A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for June and the trial is set for November.