Second Richmond Crack Cocaine Dealer Sentenced to Life Without Parole
Informant in Case Murdered
APR 5 --(Indianapolis) - Rollie Mitchell, 33, Richmond, Indiana, was sentenced to life without parole late Thursday by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker. In November, 2009, Mitchell was found guilty following a jury trial of distributing more than 50 grams of cocaine base, commonly known as “crack” cocaine. The case against Mitchell was the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Wayne County Drug Task Force, and the Richmond Police Department.
Rollie Mitchell and Billy Hicks were initially charged in Wayne County for distributing cocaine to a confidential informant during the summer of 2006. The confidential informant agreed to conduct controlled buys of “crack” cocaine from various drug dealers in Richmond, Indiana under the supervision of law enforcement. In July, 2007, Mitchell and Hicks were charged in Wayne County for dealing “crack” cocaine to the informant. While Mitchell and Hicks were awaiting trial on the Wayne County charges, the informant was murdered. On August 2, 2007, the informant was shot eight times by a gunman while sitting in an automobile on a gas station parking lot near Dayton, Ohio. After the informant was murdered, Wayne County dismissed charges against both Mitchell and Hicks.
On January 30, 2008, a federal grand jury sitting in Indianapolis indicted Mitchell for distributing more than 50 grams of “crack” cocaine to the deceased informant on June 6, 2006. In a separate, but related March 2008 indictment, Billy Hicks was indicted also for distributing “crack” cocaine to the deceased informant. In November 2009, after a two-day jury trial, Mitchell was found guilty as charged.
Mitchell did not face a mandatory life sentence. However, at the sentencing hearing, Judge Barker found that Mitchell participated in the informant’s death by arranging and paying for the murder of the informant, and further that the murder was deliberate and premeditated. As such, Judge Barker applied the appropriate Sentencing Guideline associated with first degree murder, and imposed a life sentence without parole.
The investigation as to others involved with Mitchell and Hicks in the murder of the informant remains ongoing.
“As we have seen in the past and is evident in this case, violence and drug trafficking often go hand-in-hand,” stated Stephen A. Luzinski, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA's Chicago Field Division, which covers the state of Indiana. “DEA is committed to removing illegal drugs from the streets and holding those responsible for drug trafficking and associated violence accountable for their actions.”
According to Assistant U. S. Attorney Matthew P. Brookman, who prosecuted the case for the government, this was the second life sentence imposed in connection with this case. Billy Hicks, 37, Richmond, was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in October 2009, following his conviction at trial in July 2009. Hicks’ life sentence without parole was mandatory because Hicks previously was convicted of three felony drug crimes.