Lawmaker charged with burglary claims she was checking on elderly relative – by climbing through window dressed in black

Nicole Mitchell said that she was checking on a ‘loved one’ and also retrieving her father’s ashes

Martha McHardy
Thursday 25 April 2024 17:44 BST
Minnesota state senator Nicole Mitchell was arrested wearing all black
Minnesota state senator Nicole Mitchell was arrested wearing all black (Becker County Sheriff's Office)

A Democratic state senator in Minnesota who was charged with first-degree burglary claimed on Tuesday that she was checking on her elderly relative during the alleged break-in – despite being caught climbing through a window dressed all in black.

Senator Nicole Mitchell, 49, was arrested at a home in the 700 block of Granger Road in Detroit Lakes at around 4.45am on Monday after police responded to a homeowner’s 911 call. The address is believed to be that of her stepmother.

Ms Mitchell was found at the scene in the basement dressed in black clothing and a black hat and acknowledged that she entered through a basement window, according to a criminal complaint.

But in a Facebook post following her arrest, Ms Mitchell denied the burglary allegation, writing that she went to check on “a loved one” with Alzheimer’s after learning of medical information which caused her “grave concern”. The senator did not elaborate on which family member she was referring to.

“Like so many families, mine is dealing with the pain of watching a loved one decline due to Alzheimer’s and associated paranoia,” she wrote.

“Unfortunately, I startled this close relative, exacerbating paranoia, and I was accused of stealing, which I absolutely deny,” she added.

However, a probable cause document obtained by CNN appeared to contradict Ms Mitchell’s version of events.

According to the document, the 49-year-old allegedly told investigators that she had entered her stepmother’s house because she hoped to retrieve items of “sentimental value”, including pictures, a flannel shirt and her father’s ashes.

The document went on to say that Ms Mitchell said her father had recently died and her stepmother had cut contact with her and other family members, adding that she told her stepmother “I was just trying to get a couple of my dad’s things because you wouldn’t talk to me anymore”, as she was placed under arrest.

Nicole Mitchell on the floor of the Minnesota senate in St Paul
Nicole Mitchell on the floor of the Minnesota senate in St Paul (AP)

She also told officers: “Clearly, I’m not good at this,” and “I know I did something bad,” according to the probable cause document.

Following Ms Mitchell’s arrest, officers searched her backpack and found two laptops, a cell phone, her driver’s license, senate identification and Tupperware, the document states.

One of the laptops, which was used to prop open a window, allegedly belonged to her stepmother, the court document reads. Ms Mitchell said her stepmother had given her the laptop “way back when,” but her stepmother denied ever giving the laptop to the state senator,

Ms Mitchell was released without bond on the condition she would not have contact with her stepmother, among other restrictions, her attorney, Bruce Ringstrom Jr, told CNN.

On Wednesday, state senate Republicans filed an ethics complaint against her, with an investigation required to begin within 30 days.

However, Republican state Senator Eric Lucero put forward a motion for the committee to start its work immediately – a move Democrats say is unnecessary.

“Senators must be held to the highest standard of ethical conduct. Public trust has been violated,” Mr Lucero said on the senate floor.

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