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People v. Mitchell.

2024 COA 7. No. 21CA1676. Fourteenth Amendment—Equal Protection—Selective Prosecution—Reverse Transfer to Juvenile Court—Prosecutorial Discretion.

January 18, 2024

Mitchell and J.S., D.S., and K.G., all juveniles, conspired to rob the victim at gunpoint. The victim was shot and killed during the attempted robbery. J.S. is Hispanic, D.S. is white, and K.G. and Mitchell are both Black. The People charged the four codefendants as adults with first-degree felony murder, attempted aggravated robbery, and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. But after J.S. and D.S. agreed to cooperate with law enforcement, the People refiled their cases into juvenile court. Mitchell moved to reverse transfer his case to juvenile court, and the district court denied the motion. Mitchell then moved to dismiss for selective prosecution and a request for discovery, and the court denied the motion. Mitchell was found guilty of first-degree felony murder, attempted aggravated robbery, and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. The court imposed the mandatory sentence for felony murder of life in the custody of the Department of Corrections with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

On appeal, Mitchell argued that the district court erred by finding that he failed to make the threshold showing of selective prosecution necessary to obtain discovery. He maintained that he was selectively prosecuted based on race because the People continued to prosecute him as an adult while treating J.S. and D.S. as juveniles, when the four codefendants were similarly situated by their charges at the outset of the case. However, sharing a charge does not, by itself, make codefendants similarly situated for purposes of a selective prosecution claim. Here, the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that, regardless of the charges filed, Mitchell was not similarly situated to J.S. and D.S. because the evidence supported a finding that Mitchell shot and killed the victim, and that he therefore had not demonstrated discriminatory effect. Further, the decision by J.S. and D.S. to cooperate with law enforcement was a legitimate factor for prosecutorial decision-making. Accordingly, the district court did not err.

Mitchell also contended that the district court erred by denying his motion for a reverse transfer to juvenile court because it misapplied two of the statutory factors it was required to consider: the juvenile’s maturity and the likelihood of the juvenile’s rehabilitation. As to the maturity factor, the defense presented an expert in adolescent psychology who testified that she administered to Mitchell an assessment, the Risk-Sophistication-Treatment Inventory (RSTI). Here, the court found that Mitchell’s high RSTI scores in maturity and sophistication, combined with his demonstrated leadership at the youth services center, suggested both an amenability to change and treatment and a greater degree of responsibility for his actions at the time of the offense. As to the rehabilitation factor, the record shows that the district court undertook the analysis required by this factor and properly considered the likelihood of Mitchell’s rehabilitation by using sentencing options available in the juvenile courts and district courts. Therefore, the district court did not err in applying the statutory factors.

Lastly, Mitchell asserted that the district court erred by excluding evidence that K.G. had previously robbed the victim. However, evidence of a prior robbery by K.G. against the victim was not relevant, and even assuming that such evidence could be considered relevant, exclusion of this evidence was proper because the defense failed to make the threshold showing under CRE 404(b).

The judgment was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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