CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A man accused of raping and beating an elderly woman in Central Park was accused of two similar crimes in McDowell County when he was a teenager, more than two decades ago. He served eight years in prison in one of those cases.
New York City police arrested David Albert Mitchell, 42, on Wednesday night in connection with the rape of a 73-year-old birdwatcher and photographer that morning. The victim picked Mitchell out of a lineup on Thursday, and police said he had some of the victim's belongings when he was picked up, The Associated Press reported.
In 1989, when Mitchell was 18, police in McDowell County arrested him and charged him with murder in connection with the sexual assault and fatal beating of Annie Parks, 86, at her home in Jenkinjones.
At the time, West Virginia State Police said they believed robbery was the motive even though nothing was taken from Parks' home. They said Mitchell killed her by hitting her with a blunt object.
Sid Bell, now McDowell County's prosecuting attorney, was in private practice at the time and was appointed to represent Mitchell, Bell said Thursday.
Mitchell was willing to accept a plea deal and plead guilty to murder, Bell said, but prosecutors rejected the plea and the case went to trial. A jury then acquitted Mitchell of the murder charge, Bell said.
Just a few months later, Mitchell was arrested again in McDowell County. Bell said Mitchell was accused of breaking into the home of a woman in her late 70s, raping her and stealing a firearm.
Once again, Bell was appointed to represent Mitchell in court.
"When I was appointed to represent him [the second time], he asked me to get him the best possible plea deal," Bell said.
Bell said prosecutors agreed to drop a sexual assault charge if Mitchell pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, which he did.