Johnathan Mitchell was acquitted Wednesday by a Story County jury in the homicide of Cathy Stickley, a Cedar Rapids cab driver who was stabbed to death April 29, 2011.
Mitchell, 35, of Cedar Rapids, looked relieved when 6th Judicial District Judge Robert Sosalla read the not-guilty verdicts for first-degree murder and first-degree robbery. He hugged his attorney, Tyler Johnston, after the hearing concluded.
Stickley's family remained silent but were visibly upset upon hearing the verdicts. One family member walked out of the courtroom immediately after the verdicts were announced.
The family left the courthouse and made no statement after the hearing.
Mitchell did not get to walk out of the courtroom a free man. He is charged in a separate case from 2010 with willful injury, causing bodily injury in the beating of a man near Coe College.
He was out on bond at the time Stickley was killed. He was immediately taken out of the courtroom after the verdict and will go back to Linn County Jail pending his trial Nov. 18.
Mitchell maintained his innocence in Stickley's homicide Monday as he testified that he stole money for crack cocaine from Stickley. But he stated that she was already dead, lying on the ground outside her cab, when he saw it in the 1500 block alley between Second and Third avenues SE.
According to testimony, Stickley was stabbed 18 times in the neck and head. Mitchell's prints were found in Stickley's blood in the cab.
Two convicted drug dealers testified they saw Mitchell in the cab and received bloody money from him for crack cocaine that night
Investigators testified Mitchell was their only suspect in the crime. His prints were the only ones found in the cab.
The defense claimed Stickley was involved in some "drug activity" that night that put her in danger, but there was no evidence of that presented during the trial. Her daughter, Dawn Stickley, and a friend testified Cathy Stickley wasn't a user of drugs or involved in dealing drugs.
Stickley didn't have a criminal history, and her toxicology report was clean.Johnston and Assistant Linn County Attorney Nic Scott declined comment after the verdict.