James Mitchell, son of pornography pioneer Jim Mitchell and heir to the Mitchell brothers fortune, was sentenced Tuesday to 35 years to life for the brutal murder of ex-girlfriend Danielle Keller and the kidnapping of their young daughter, Samantha, according to Marin Independent Journal. He was also convicted of child endangerment, child abduction, domestic violence and stalking.
According to neighbors who witnessed the incident, Mitchell arrived at Samantha's first birthday party on July 12, 2009 with a metal baseball bat and struck Keller to the ground as she was holding Samantha. Mitchell then beat Keller to death before kidnapping Samantha and fleeing the scene, as The Huffington Post reported earlier this year. Samantha was found several hours later, safe in Mitchell's car.
Mitchell addressed the court on Tuesday morning, denying that he killed Keller and calling the case "a big circus from day one," according to The Examiner. Mitchell claimed that he was treated unfairly because of his association with the Mitchell brothers porn empire, saying, "it was nothing but poison in the water and a flock of sheep running over a cliff at the sound of 'James Mitchell.'"
Mitchell testified that two other men were at the home when he arrived and that they were responsible for murdering Keller. However, Mitchell, who testified in his own defense, could not explain how Keller's blood was spattered on his pants at close range, the Marin Independent Journal reported.
Mitchell's father, Jim, spent time in prison for a similar crime. In 1991 he was convicted of killing his brother and business partner, Artie, and he subsequently served time for manslaughter in San Quentin prison.
The Marin Superior Court judge handed Mitchell the maximum sentence of 26 years to life for murder in the first degree, plus an additional nine for kidnapping.