Public Safety

Cedar Rapids man found incompetent to stand trial in federal court

Johnathan Mitchell charged with robbing cabdriver, who was killed in 2011

Johnathan Mitchell watches video from the crime scene during his trial at the Story County Courthouse on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, in Nevada. Mitchell is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the April 2011 death of Century Cab driver Cathy Stickley in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Johnathan Mitchell watches video from the crime scene during his trial at the Story County Courthouse on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, in Nevada. Mitchell is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the April 2011 death of Century Cab driver Cathy Stickley in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man accused of robbing a cabdriver, who was killed the same night in 2011, has been found incompetent to stand trial. As a result, the federal trial of Johnathan D. Mitchell, 38, has been put on hold.

Mitchell, who is charged with one count of robbery affecting commerce, was committed to a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility for a competency evaluation and last month Mitchell’s lawyer informed the court of the results.

U.S. Chief Magistrate Jon Scoles said Mitchell — already serving time for forgery in a state prison — was transferred to a federal facility for evaluation and is now to be sent to another federal facility for restoration, without coming back to Iowa.

Scoles said Mitchell’s federal trial set for Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court is to be continued indefinitely.

If Mitchell’s competency is restored — meaning he understands the nature and consequences of the alleged crime and is able to assist his lawyer in a defense — the proceedings would go forward.

The indictment shows Mitchell obstructed commerce — the cab company service — by “violently” robbing Catherine “Cathy” Stickley, 54, who was driving a Century Cab on April 29, 2011.

Mitchell originally was charged with first-degree murder in Stickley’s death and first-degree robbery but he was acquitted on both counts by a Story County jury in 2013. The trial was moved from Linn County due to pretrial publicity.

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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. The prosecution claimed Mitchell needed money for crack cocaine and he killed Stickley to get it.

Mitchell was out on bond awaiting trial on a 2010 assault charge when Stickley was killed. Mitchell admitted during the trial that he stole money from Stickley to buy crack cocaine 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 in Cedar Rapids.

Mitchell was the only suspect in the homicide and the case hasn’t been reopened.

Mitchell, when indicted on the federal robbery charge, was already serving five years in prison on a forgery charge in Johnson County.

After his acquittal on the murder charge, Mitchell was convicted and sentenced to seven years in January 2014 for the 2010 assault on Arvin Druvenga and a forgery charge in Linn County, but was paroled in August 2014, according to Iowa Department of Corrections.

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