The 16-year-old who removed his GPS bracelet and disappeared days after pleading guilty to a murder charge was sentenced Wednesday to serve two years in prison for probation violations.
Appearing in state district court, Tommy Mitchell admitted several violations including cutting off his tracking device and consuming illegal drugs while he eluded juvenile probation officials.
The two-year sentence, to be served at a state Children, Youth and Families Department correction facility, was the maximum Mitchell faced for violating his conditions of release.
The Farmington teen on April 20 accepted a plea bargain to third-degree manslaughter for the murder of 49-year-old Kevin Buttry, a pizza delivery driver found dead Jan. 5, 2008, lying next to his delivery truck
in the parking lot of an apartment complex near the intersection of Griffin Avenue and Poplar Street in Farmington.
Citing a lack of physical evidence connecting the teen to the crime, the District Attorney's Office allowed Mitchell to accept a plea bargain to the reduced charge.
As a term of the murder plea agreement, prosecutors recommended Mitchell be sentenced to probation, despite knowing the only available home for the teen was a community shelter where he would be unsupervised while his mother is in jail.
Mitchell maintained his innocence throughout the plea, but acknowledged accepting the reduced charge prevented the risk of a jury finding him guilty of first-degree murder, a conviction that carries a mandatory 30-year adult prison sentence.
Two days after the sentence was rendered by state District Judge Sandra Price, Mitchell cut off his GPS tracking device while working at a local fast food restaurant and disappeared.
Mitchell was arrested by Farmington police days later. The teen remained in the custody of the juvenile detention center since the April 24 arrest.
"You got a heck of a good deal and you chose to throw that in the wind," Price said Wednesday, noting the severity of a guilty plea to manslaughter. "You don't know how many times I went back to question whether I should have even accepted that plea because of the leniency it allowed."
Public defender Stephen Taylor requested the court consider releasing the teen to the supervision of his mother, Bonnie Mitchell, following her scheduled release from the San Juan County Detention Center next week.
"We don't want to make the same mistake we made last time by asking him to go to the shelter without supervision," the public defender said.
Bonnie Mitchell, who appeared at the hearing in a prison jumpsuit, claimed that had she not been in jail for her own probation violation, the teen would not have disappeared.