TACOMA, WA – Today James Edward Mitchell, 52, was sentenced to 450 months in prison for the 1993 stabbing death of Linda Robinson. In 2013, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department cold-case detectives matched Mitchell’s DNA to blood collected at the crime scene. Last month, a jury convicted Mitchell of murder in the first degree.
“This is another success story for justice from our cold-case project,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Collaboration between the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Tacoma Police Department and our office has resulted in several convictions, with more to come.”
On Feb. 6, 1993, Robinson’s 7-year-old niece knocked on a neighbor’s door and said, “My aunt’s dead and there’s a fire.” The neighbor rushed to the apartment and saw Robinson lying on the kitchen floor, face down, covered in blood. There was food burning on the stove, which caused the fire alarm to sound.
Robinson had been stabbed 10 times in her back, including a fatal stab wound to her lungs. She was holding a telephone handset, but the cord had been cut. In addition to the blood in the kitchen, police collected blood drops in Robinson’s bedroom and bathroom. Detectives were not able to identify any suspects in the case, and the investigation was eventually suspended.
In 2013, cold-case detectives reopened the investigation, submitting the blood collected in the bedroom and bathroom to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for DNA analysis. The lab was able to develop a DNA profile, which identified Mitchell as the donor. Mitchell’s DNA profile was in the system as a result of several felony convictions in the early 2000’s. An arrest warrant was issued and Mitchell was extradited back to Washington from Florida, where he had been living. Detectives learned that Mitchell and Robinson grew up across the street from one another.
Communications and Public Information Coordinator
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office