In a final report, the state's 13th multicounty grand jury revealed Thursday that new leads came out of its investigation of the brutal beating death of Julie Mitchell, a wealthy gambler's wife.
Grand jurors reported they are “optimistic that this case will ultimately be solved.”
Oklahoma County prosecutors last year turned to the state grand jury for help investigating the Nov. 2, 2010, death of Julie Mitchell because some witnesses weren't cooperating with police.
The victim was the wife of Teddy Mitchell, who is suspected of running an illegal gambling operation out of his northwest Oklahoma City home. Julie Mitchell, 34, was found beaten to death inside the home, while her husband was traveling.
Police earlier this year focused on an Edmond insurance agent, who allegedly owed Teddy Mitchell money. The agent, Michael Wayne Thomas, 41, has denied involvement in the beating.
The grand jury reported it heard testimony from numerous witnesses regarding Julie Mitchell's death.
“Investigators continue to follow leads — many of which came from these grand jury witnesses,” according to its report. “It is recommended that any future grand jury continue to investigate this very brutal crime.”
In another case
About another high-profile homicide case, involving an Edmond baby, the grand jury did not express any optimism in its report.
The victim, Jacob “Jake” Ryan Hedger, died of blunt force head trauma in March 2011, one day after he was taken by ambulance from his babysitter's Edmond home, records show.
He was almost 9 months old.
At issue is when the baby suffered the trauma that killed him — before or after his parents dropped him off with the baby sitter, Traci Kramer. Experts have differing opinions on the time.
Grand jurors reported taking testimony from multiple witnesses about the baby's death and reviewing medical records “from multiple physicians and medical personnel.”
“This is a tragic and heartbreaking case and it is recommended that law enforcement and future grand juries continue to investigate the case,” the grand jury wrote.
Grand jury's role
The 13th multicounty grand jury was empaneled in February 2011 and returned 25 indictments in all against 31 defendants, according to its report.
Six of those indictments were issued this week. The criminal charges will become public later.
Grand jurors reported witnesses appeared before them 336 times and 1,895 subpoenas were issued.
Grand jurors also reported assisting 113 local and state law enforcement agencies. Grand jurors reported they “made a significant difference in many investigations.”
The grand jury is advised by assistants of Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
The grand jury made a series of recommendations about the operations of drug courts in Oklahoma.
Those recommendations came out of its investigation of problems with the drug court program for Pittsburg and McIntosh counties. That investigation resulted in criminal charges against the former drug court coordinator, a judge and a prosecutor.
The first charge, against the former drug court coordinator, accused her of embezzling more than $27,950 from the program.
Drug court recommendations
• Grand jurors called for drug court programs to immediately stop charging “flat fees” for participation in the programs until such a fee is authorized by the Legislature.
• Grand jurors also recommend drug court programs stop directly collecting any fees, such as for drug tests. Grand jurors said participants should be required to pay court clerks instead.
• Grand jurors also called on the state auditor to do annual financial and performance audits of drug court programs.
• Grand jurors recommended drug court administrators not hire past or present participants to help run the programs. Grand jurors reported they were shocked to find the drug court program for Pittsburg and McIntosh counties used past and current participants to collect fees.