By Joe Johnson
An Athens man was indicted for attempted murder in connection with a box cutter attack on a pair of University of Georgia students last year.
Eric Keith Mitchell, 40, of Lee Street was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder, two counts each of aggravated assault and aggravated battery, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, and battery, according to the indictment that was filed Tuesday in Clarke County Superior Court.
According to court and police documents, on May 24, 2020 Mitchell attacked and severely injuredwithout provocation Caroline Bradley, 22, and Libby Stark, 21 at Golden Pantry at the corner of West Broad Street and North Milledge Avenue.
Athens-Clarke County police Sgt. Stewart Heard wrote in a report that he was in his parked patrol car at The Varsity on West Broad Street at about 9 p.m. when he heard a loud scream and banging noises coming a Golden Pantry across the street.
“I observed what appeared to be persons running and screaming in the parking lot and front entrance area,” Heard wrote.
The officer immediately activated his car’s emergency lights and drove to the convenience store, where he heard someone scream, ‘He has a gun,’” according to the report.
When Heard saw Mitchell leaving the store while holding a silver object, the officer drew his sidearm and ordered the man to the ground, according to the report.
Police said the silver object was a razor knife.
After other officers arrived and placed Mitchell in handcuffs, Heard noted in his report that he went inside Golden Pantry and saw two young women who had what appeared to be serious injuries, with “copious amounts of blood on the floor.”
Bradley, the victim whom Mitchell is accused of attempting to murder, had deep lacerations to her abdomen and defensive wounds on her hands, police said, Stark had severe swelling and bleeding coming from her facial area. She reportedly underwent several surgeries to repair severe injuries to her nose, jaw and teeth.
When questioned by police, “Mitchell cited stress from COVID-19 concerns as the precipitating factor for the unprovoked attacks.”
Two days after he was arrested, Mitchell allegedly assaulted a deputy at the Clarke County Jail.
According to the indictment, Mitchell punched Cpl. Brian Meadows multiple times in the face and head, and also injured the deputy’s elbow and ribs.
On Sept. 15, Western Judicial Circuit Judge Lisa Lott ordered Mitchell to be evaluated and treated at a Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities facilty after Mitchell’s defense attorney filed a motion that stated Mitchell was “clearly suffering from a mental illness at the time of his arrest.”
Mitchell was returned to jail following treatment.
He is scheduled to be arraigned on July 5.