General Crime

* James Mitchell A Pittsburg man testified he did not beat ex-girlfriend Danielle Keller to death

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A Pittsburg man testified this afternoon that he did not beat his estranged girlfriend to death with a baseball bat at her home in Novato nearly two years ago. James Mitchell, 29, testified in Marin County Superior Court that he struggled with two men at his ex-girlfriend Danielle Keller’s Diablo Court home, snatched his daughter from one of them and fled with her on July 12, 2009.

Mitchell, who was arrested later that day in Citrus Heights, is charged with Keller’s murder and kidnapping their daughter Samantha on her first birthday. Mitchell testified that he did not see who bludgeoned Keller to death. He said while he was struggling with the two men — one of whom was wearing a white shirt while the other was wearing a black shirt — one of the men hit him in the back with a baseball bat.

Mitchell said one of the men grabbed his daughter and he chased after him and snatched her from him on the street, then got in his car and drove away. He said he was sad when his mother called him while he was driving with his daughter and told him Keller was dead. “Yeah, I was pretty upset,” he said without showing any emotion. The Marin County District Attorney’s Office will begin cross-examining Mitchell this afternoon.

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