COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former Columbus vice officer Andrew Mitchell testified in his own defense Monday for the 2018 murder of a 23-year-old woman.
Mitchell is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter for the death of Donna Castleberry. The night Castleberry was killed, Mitchell had picked her up during an alleged prostitution sting and was performing what he said was a warrant check.
At the time, Mitchell was dressed in plain clothes and in an unmarked vehicle. Castleberry reportedly asked Mitchell to provide proof of his badge, which he could not do. Police said a fight between the two ensued and Mitchell fatally shot Castleberry after she stabbed him in the hand.
On Monday, Mitchell walked the jurors through his professional career, and the day leading up to Castleberry's fatal shooting in the Franklinton neighborhood. He wiped his hands with Kleenexes several times during his testimony.
Mitchell testified that it was not required for undercover officers to carry a badge on them, and that he had forgotten his before. Mitchell said he instead showed Castleberry paperwork he had obtained from the courthouse, to which she responded, "that could be fake."
At some point an unknown man came up to the car and Castleberry reportedly shouted for help. Mitchell reportedly claimed that he was, in fact, an officer and the man left.
Mitchell said Castleberry continued to raise her voice. He testified he thought she might "put up a fight," so he said, "[Expletive] you, I'm gonna cuff you."
Last week, jurors listened to a recording of Castleberry’s final moments, during which she could be heard saying, “Do not put your hands on me, no help!,” and “Please help me!.”
Mitchell said he attempted to handcuff Castleberry and that's when she stabbed him in the hand.
"I believe she was trying to kill me," said Mitchell, who added the two began to fight over the knife. During the fight, Castleberry reportedly put her foot to Mitchell's throat. "She already cut me once, she just got done choking me. She was trying to kill me."
The defense has argued Mitchell was acting in self-defense when he shot Castleberry. During last week’s testimony, a detective testified that Castleberry could have been the same woman who fought another detective the week prior.
During a cross examination, Mitchell admitted to opening the car's door at one point and putting one leg out before turning back into the vehicle.
Prosecutors allege it was Castleberry who was acting in self-defense, pointing to the fact she was found shot in the back of Mitchell’s car while reportedly attempting to escape.
"Do you believe she's [Castleberry] acting the fear that you hear in her voice?," prosecutors asked, referring to the recording. "Do you believe she was acting to be afraid of you by running into the back seat?"
Mitchell is also facing federal charges for allegedly forcing women to have sex with him under the threat of an arrest, pressuring others to cover up crimes and lying to federal investigators when he said he’d never had sex with prostitutes.
Last year, Columbus City Council approved a settlement of more than $1 million in Castleberry’s death.
Following witness testimony, closing arguments are expected to begin, possibly on Tuesday.