A Jefferson Parish jury took only 15 minutes Friday to reject a New Orleans man’s claim that he was afraid for his life when he shot and killed his unarmed ex-wife in front of their two children in a Metairie apartment a year ago.
Ronald Mitchell Sr., 39, will be sentenced to life in prison later this month after being convicted of second-degree murder and being a felon in possession of a weapon.
Mitchell, who had a history of domestic abuse, went to Derice Bailey’s Aero Street apartment on Dec. 2, 2016, and accused her of cheating on him while the two of them were attempting to reconcile.
Several friends were in the home and thought they had successfully mediated the dispute, only to see Mitchell leave the apartment, go around to the back and return with a .38-caliber handgun he had stashed in a vacant house.
He ordered everyone but Bailey and their children outside. Calls from Bailey’s friends’ poured into 911, and they begged the police to come, according to their testimony and replays of their panicked calls during the trial.
Inside the apartment, Mitchell ignored the pleas of Bailey and her 9-year-old and 13-year-old children as he shot her in the chest and head, prosecutors said.
According to authorities, Mitchell then stepped outside the apartment with his arms raised and the gun in his hand.
Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s office said in a news release on the verdict that Mitchell later confessed to authorities and said Bailey did not deserve to die as she did.
Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish told the jury that Mitchell’s false accusations of infidelity fueled his intent to kill.
“He obsessed about his ex-wife cheating on him,” Rish said. “And lo and behold, his ex-wife wasn’t cheating on him. What a tragic, tragic mistake he made.”
“He looked at her. He aimed at her and he fired. And he fired again,” Assistant District Attorney Molly Massey told jurors. “His own words show intent: ‘If I’m going to jail, I’m going for a reason.’ He wanted this breakup to be the last, and that equals murder.”
Mitchell did not testify in his own defense, but his attorney Jerome Matthews said Mitchell was acting in self-defense. He suggested that Mitchell felt threatened by a man hiding in Bailey’s garage, Connick’s office said.
The jury of eight women and four men rejected the defense of justifiable homicide and convicted Matthews late Friday afternoon.
Judge E. Adrian Adams, who presided over the trial in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, is scheduled to sentence Mitchell on Jan. 25.
Second-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence with no chance for parole, probation or suspended sentence.