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Jury returns guilty verdict

District Attorney Keith Higgins announces that a Jeff Davis County jury found Bruce Mitchell, 61, From Hazlehurst, guilty of entering an automobile following a jury trial in Jeff Davis Superior Court Nov. 15. The incident occurred in March, 2023, when the victim, Charlie Watkins, was working the night shift at Beasley Forest Products, and was informed that his vehicle had been broken into. Watkins found that his passenger side window had been busted out and some money had been stolen from his console. Surveillance video showed an older red/pinkish Chevrolet S-10 drive past the parking lot at Beasley and a shadowy figure comes down the road shortly after. The person walked directly to Charlie Watkins vehicle, passing by at least five other vehicles, and then proceeds to try to get inside Watkins’ truck before busting the window, taking the money, and then walking back off to the darkness. When he viewed the surveillance video, Watkins was able to identify the shadowy figure as Bruce Mitchell. Watkins had known Bruce Mitchell as a friend and neighbor for 15-18 years and thus able to identify him based on the way the person in the video walked and moved as well as the shoes he was wearing. Earlier that same day, Watkins had loaned Bruce Mitchell $10 and Watkins had observed a distinctive pair of boots Mitchell was wearing. At this time, Mitchell also had the opportunity to see that Watkins had a quantity of cash that he kept in the console of his truck. Watkins also recognized the suspicious vehicle in the video as one that Bruce Mitchell drove at the time: an older red Chevrolet S-10 that had faded to a pinkish color. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Hunter Smith. The jury deliberated for approximately 30 minutes before finding Mitchell guilty. Mitchell was sentenced to serve five years in the Department of Corrections by Superior Court Judge Roger B. Lane. Judge Lane took into consideration the targeted nature of the crime and the fact that Mitchell knew his victim and had been his neighbor. Mitchell was sentenced as a recidivist and thus will serve those five years without parole. Mitchell was previously convicted of robbery in 1979, armed robbery in 1986, theft by taking in 2015, and possession of cocaine in 2016 all in Jeff Davis County.

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