Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Minnesota State Senate Accused of Stealing. Nicole Mitchell says she was testing a man with Alzheimer's disease.

Detroit Lakes, Minn. — A Minnesota state senator is now facing charges in connection with a burglary at a Detroit Lakes home earlier this week.

On Tuesday, the Becker County Attorney's Office charged 49-year-old Sen. Nicole Mitchell, DFL-Woodbury, was charged with first-degree robbery.

According to police, officers were called to a residence at Granger Road and Long Avenue around 4:45 a.m. Monday after the homeowner called 911 to report a burglary in progress.

Police say Mitchell was found inside. He was arrested and booked into the Becker County Jail.

The charges allege that Mitchell burglarized his stepfather's home to get his dead father's belongings

According to the criminal complaint, Mitchell's stepfather is accused of burglarizing the home.

The stepmother called the police to report that someone had broken into her home. When officers arrived, the suspect — later identified as Mitchell — ran into the basement.

Mitchell was wearing black clothing and a black hat when officers found him in the basement, according to the complaint. They found a flashlight with a sock and a black backpack nearby. The bag contained two laptops, a cell phone, Tupperware and identification documents for Mitchell.

Investigators said Mitchell told them his father had recently died and that his stepfather would not speak to Mitchell or other family members.

“I was trying to get a couple of things from my dad because you won't talk to me anymore,” Mitchell said while arresting his stepson, according to the complaint.

Items searched by Mitchell included “pictures, a flannel shirt, ashes and other items of sentimental value,” the complaint states.

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Mitchell reportedly gave police the same motive, adding that he “just broke into the house.”

“Obviously I wasn't good at it,” he said, according to investigators, “and I knew I did something bad.”

Mitchell entered the home through a basement window, investigators said.

Police questioned Mitchell about one of the laptops found in her bag, which, when turned on, had her stepfather's name on it. The stepmother says she gave it to her, to which Siti denies.

Mitchell made his first court appearance Tuesday morning. She is in custody.

Mitchell says he tested on a family member with Alzheimer's and didn't steal

In a statement posted on her state senator's Facebook page, Mitchell denied stealing anything and said she entered the home out of concern for a sick family member.

Mitchell said the incident was a “real tragedy” for his family and said he hoped it would “go back to being a private matter”. He thanked friends and colleagues “from both parties” for their support.

Read Mitchell's full statement below:

Regarding the latest news:

Like many families, mine deals with the pain of watching a loved one decline due to Alzheimer's and the associated paranoia.
Over the weekend, I learned medical information that caused me great concern and prompted me to check on that family member. I've walked into a house I've visited countless times over the past 20 years, where my son even once had his own room.

Unfortunately, I startled this close relative, paranoia escalates, and I am accused of theft, which I absolutely deny.

Thank you to all my friends (and colleagues from both parties) for their kind words of support and belief in my character before I even had a chance to respond.

This has been a real tragedy for our family and it is my hope that this will turn into a private matter.

Legislators speak, call consequences

Mitchell is currently serving his first term as a state senator. A spokesperson for the Senate TFL caucus said in a statement Monday that they were “aware of the situation” but would not comment.

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On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy said the “allegations against Senator Mitchell are troubling.”

“The alleged conduct is outside of his established role in the Senate and his distinguished career in the military,” Murphy said. “We believe in due process, and Senator Mitchell has the right to fully defend her case in court. In the days and weeks ahead, Senator Mitchell must have serious and difficult conversations with her colleagues, constituents and family.”

Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said in a statement that Mitchell's alleged actions called for his resignation.

“I understand the difficult situation his family is facing, but the actions Sen. Mitchell has taken are troubling,” Johnson said. “The complaint released by the Becker County Prosecutor presents a case of a man who made elaborate preparations to burglarize a family member's home. This behavior is unbecoming of a legislator and he should resign from the Senate immediately.”

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Mitchell, a television meteorologist and commander of the Air National Guard, was elected in 2022 and is in the midst of his first term.

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