Man acquitted in Cedar Rapids murder last month pleads guilty in assault case

Sentencing set for Jan. 3

Johnathan Mitchell listens to testimony during his trial for first-degree murder and first-degree robbery at the Story C
Johnathan Mitchell listens to testimony during his trial for first-degree murder and first-degree robbery at the Story County Courthouse on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, in Nevada. Mitchell is charged in the April 2011 death of Century Cab driver Cathy Stickley in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

Johnathan Mitchell, who was acquitted last month in the 2011 homicide of a cab driver, pleaded guilty Thursday in a different case where he seriously assaulted a man in 2010.

Mitchell, 35, of Cedar Rapids, pleaded guilty to assault causing serious injury without intent to cause serious injury, a felony, and misdemeanor forgery in a separate 2011 pending case. He faces seven years in prison on both convictions, up to a $7,500 fine and victim restitution, according to the plea agreement. Mitchell remains free on bond until sentencing which is set Jan. 3, 2014.

Mitchell admitted during the plea hearing that he beat Arvin Druvenga with a wooden handled tool Sept. 25, 2010 while Druvenga and his wife were watching a football game at Coe College from their parked car on 15th Street. Mitchell said he didn't intend to seriously injure Druvenga.

According to police reports, Druvenga suffered skull fractures, a large cut on the top of his head that required eight staples and numerous skin abrasions. He also had to wear a neck brace for several weeks as result of the assault.

Druvenga wasn't immediately available for comment Thursday. He didn't attend the plea hearing.

According to police, Druvenga said a man, later identified as Mitchell, was sitting on his porch across the street from where their car was parked that day and he was "yelling things," which they assumed were about the game.

Druvenga told police he then got out of his car and came around to the passenger door to talk to his wife and it was at this point Mitchell walked over, raised a large stick with a metal end and started beating him, hitting him in the lower back.

According to the police report, Druvenga remembered being hit twice and then his memory faded but his wife gave the same account of the incident. Officers also interviewed three other witnesses who said Mitchell beat Druvenga.

Cedar Rapids Police officer Thai Nguyen wrote in his report that after Mitchell was arrested, he started screaming at him and Druvenga, "I'm from this neighborhood, where are you from? This is war."

Assistant Linn County Attorney Jason Bessler said Mitchell will have about 2 1/2 years jail credit for time served on the assault charge but the plea agreement ensures the best result for the state, which still gives Mitchell prison time.

Last month, Mitchell was acquitted by a Story County jury for first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the homicide of cab driver Cathy Stickley, 54, of Cedar Rapids, who was stabbed to death April 29, 2011.  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.Mitchell was out on bond in the assault case when Stickley was killed. Mitchell during the trial admitted that he stole money from Stickley to buy crack cocaine that night but he said she was already dead, lying outside the cab on the ground in the 1500 block alley between Second and Third avenues SE.