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Mitchell murder trial begins in Jefferson County

Updated: Thursday, June 12 2014, 05:47 PM EDT

WTOV9.com
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio - A trial for 38-year-old Michael Mitchell, who is accused of killing his girlfriend, began Thursday in Jefferson County.
Hours of testimony from as many as 10 witnesses were heard throughout the day in a case in which the state insists was a murder, while the defense is calling a tragic accident.
Mitchell sat expressionless as the proceedings began, accused of killing Marie Cantwell, who was discovered by her daughter.
"What she found at that point was her mother, face down vomit and blood in her face, unresponsive and gone," Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said.
With opening statements, prosecutors painted a picture of a gruesome murder.
"She couldn't hear the shot that killed her mother, but she heard her vomiting, afterwards, which suggests that that shot didn't immediately kill Marie because she was vomiting," Hanlin said.
Mitchell's defense is it was a tragic accident, that a shot struck Cantwell in the side of the head while  Mitchell was twirling a pistol -- a habit he often did when he couldn't sleep at night.
"Just because it doesn't make sense to the prosecutor, or sometimes it doesn't make sense to the sheriff - 'well there has to be a crime.' Well sometimes, the truth is stranger than fiction," Mitchell's defense attorney said.
Mitchell was found in Beloit, Ohio. But the weapon prosecutors say he used in the crime was never found.
"First he'll say it might be at the scene, it might be in the bed, and then he'll say it might be in the truck," Hanlin said. "Then he'll say it might be at his uncle's home that he ran to. It might be in the shed next door, it might be out in the woods. He just can't seem to remember what he did with the weapon that he admits he used to shoot her."
The trial is expected to last two days. Stick with NEWS9 and WTOV9.com for the latest.

Mitchell murder trial begins in Jefferson County


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