Anti-Gun State Senator Busted on Burglary Charge Allegedly Told Cops 'I Know I Did Something Bad'

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Authorities in Becker County, Minnesota have released documents shedding more light on why anti-gun state Senator Nicole Mitchell was busted for burglary early Monday morning, and while they help to explain her motivation, they also paint a damning portrait of a lawmaker who had no qualms about breaking the law when it suited her.


According to police in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, a woman called police around 4:45 Monday morning to report an intruder in her home who had run into the basement. Responding officers found Mitchell in the basement wearing all black clothing with a black hat and a sock covering her flashlight. 

At one point, after Mitchell had been ordered her to ground and placed her in handcuffs, she allegedly told the homeowner that she was "just trying to get a couple of my dad's things because you wouldn't talk to me anymore." Police found a backpack stuck in a basement window, with two laptops, some Tupperware, and Mitchell's ID stashed inside. 

While speaking with investigators, Sen. Mitchell claimed she entered the house to get items that belonged to her late father. Mitchell claimed the woman, identified as a non-blood relative, had stopped contacting her and refused to give her the items, such as pictures, a flannel shirt, ashes, and other sentimental items.   

"I was just trying to get a couple of my dad's things because you wouldn't talk to me anymore," Mitchell allegedly said at the time of the arrest. 

However, charges said one of the laptops found in the backpack belonged to the woman, who told investigators she did not give it to Mitchell, but the Senator said otherwise. 


The statement of probable cause released by prosecutors reveals that after Mitchell had been read her Miranda warning, she told an officer, "I know I did something bad." According to the officer, Mitchell said she broke into the home in order to get some of her late father's belongings, including a flannel shirt, pictures, and some of her father's ashes. 

At the jail, Officer Sternhagen asked what got Mitchell to this stage and Mitchell indicated it was her father's ashes. She stated that she previously got into an argument with Victim and they stopped speaking. 

As much as I might sympathize with Mitchell, that's still not an excuse to break into someone's home in the middle of the night. And, for what it's worth, it doesn't sound like police found a flannel shirt, pictures, or her dad's ashes. Instead, they found a laptop belonging to the victim. Mitchell says her stepmother gave her the laptop "way back when", but the stepmother disputes that, and when police fired up the laptop in Mitchell's presence her stepmother's name came up on the login screen, not hers. 

That doesn't mean that Mitchell is lying, but it also doesn't change the allegations against her: she drove several hours to break in to a home in order to get stuff she wanted that the homeowner wouldn't give her. No matter the family drama that might have motivated her, breaking and entering is still a crime, and it Mitchell did indeed confess what she did to the arresting officers after she'd been read her rights, it's going to be hard to defend her actions in court. 


What about in the state legislature? Mitchell was released without bond by a judge earlier today, and theoretically could show up when the legislature reconvenes tomorrow. 

Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy, a fellow DFL-er, released a statement of her own that does a fine job of straddling the fence between defending her colleague and hinting it may be time to step down. 

“The allegations against Senator Mitchell are upsetting, for me and for anyone who has gotten to know and work with her. The behavior alleged is far outside the character she has established in the Senate and in her distinguished career in the military. We believe in due process, and Senator Mitchell has the right to a full defense of her case in court. In the coming days and weeks, Senator Mitchell must also have serious and difficult conversations with her colleagues, constituents and family.”

I'll stand by my earlier prediction that the DFL will not officially demand Mitchell resign. If she'd been accused of breaking into an ex's home (or a stranger's), the optics would be even worse than they are now. Mitchell's professed motivation for the alleged burglary tugs on the heartstrings, and my guess is that her colleagues will present her legal predicament in the most sympathetic terms possible. If the DFL had a bigger majority they might be willing to throw her under the bus for her arrest, but with a one-seat majority and several weeks left in the session, I just don't see them casting her aside when doing so could scuttle the remaining items on their legislative to-do list... including the gun control bills that have yet to receive a vote on the Senate floor.  



Sen. Mitchell has released a statement on Facebook, and her description of the even is completely different than what's contained in the statement of probable cause. 

Nowhere in the officer's accounting does he mention Mitchell informing him that her stepmother has dementia or that she came to the home in the middle of the night to check on her. And in Mitchell's statement on Facebook, there's no mention of her father's death or her trying to gather up some sentimental objects that her stepmother wouldn't give her. 

I'm stunned that Mitchell would release a statement that's so contradictory to the information contained in the charging document instead of just keeping her mouth shut. This raises all kinds of legitimate questions about her judgement and character, and honestly, it makes it much harder for the DFL to defend her. 

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus is calling on Mitchell to resign or face expulsion from the state Senate. Before seeing her statement on Facebook I didn't see that as a realistic possibility, but now I'd say that's definitely on the table. If her statement to police matched her statement on social media I can see how her fellow DFL'ers could rally to her defense, but these wildly different stories have to be giving even her staunchest supporters heartburn and hesitation about speaking up on her behalf.   


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