The Office of District Attorney Daphne Totten failed to convince Effingham County jurors beyond a reasonable doubt in a trial this week against a man who was charged with a host of serious offenses.
DaJuan Taray Mitchell, represented by Rincon defense attorney Craig Bonnell, was acquitted on seven counts after a jury trial against Assistant District Attorney Matt Breedon. The case is just one of three against Mitchell that are sexual in nature and pending in Effingham County Superior Court.
According to court records, Mitchell was arrested in March of 2020 by the Rincon Police Department. Detectives charged him with a host of offenses stemming from a February 27, 2020 incident. Among the allegations outlined in the detailed indictment were assertions that Mitchell assaulted a female by forcing her onto a bed ‘while brandishing a hammer and threatening to kill’ her, that he held the female against her will, that Mitchell forced himself upon the female, and made substantial steps toward committing acts of sexual assault.
Bonnell made a request for bond in May of 2020, but that request was denied. Mitchell remained behind bars for the duration of the case due to his other pending charges in Effingham County. (See below for additional information on that)
A grand jury formally indicted Mitchell in December 2020, returning a True Bill on the following charges:
- Aggravated Assault with Intent to Rape
- Aggravated Assault with Intent to Cause Bodily Injury
- False Imprisonment
- Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony (Rape)
- Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony (Aggravated Sodomy)
- Sexual Battery (a misdemeanor, when he grabbed the female’s buttocks)
Ahead of trial, ADA Matt Breedon filed motions to introduce evidence of Mitchell’s commission of ‘similar acts.’ Specifically:
Details of a 2019 case
Mitchell was charged by the Rincon Police Department in March of 2019 on one count of Photographing Underneath An Individual’s Clothing. The female in this case is not the same from the 2020 case for which Mitchell was charged with more serious offenses.
Details of a 2021 case
Mitchell was charged by the Rincon Police Department in 2021 for an act which reportedly occurred in November 2016. Mitchell is accused of Public Indecency, for the ‘lewd exposure of his sexual organs’ at a public place by ‘rubbing his penis across the back of a female.’ A second charge of Simple Battery is attached to the indictment for the same act.
Neither of the ‘similar act’ cases have been adjudicated and are still pending, but ADA Matt Breedon was permitted to present the information to jurors during the two-day trial this past week.
Following brief deliberations, Mitchell was acquitted on each and every count against him. His other cases, however, are still pending in Effingham. Those matters will also be heard before Superior Court Judge Lovett Bennett. In the interim, Mitchell remains in the Effingham County Jail.