Mitchell pleads guilty
Former Seton Hall men’s basketball player Robert Mitchell has pled guilty to charges stemming from the robbery of an off-campus house last March.
Mitchell admitted to third degree criminal restraint, second degree conspiracy burglary and second degree burglary, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office plea announcement.
The plea agreement recommends that Mitchell serve three years in prison. He will need 85 percent of that term to be completed before he is eligible for parole.
The incident occurred on the night of March 15 when Mitchell entered a house on Irvington Ave., not far from the gates of campus. Mitchell then forced the eight people in the house to move to one room at gunpoint, where he demanded they surrender all money and personal items over, according to the original announcement from the prosecutor’s office.
Along with the plea agreement, a motive behind the crime has surfaced.
According to his confession, Mitchell admitted that he entered the residence to obtain marijuana. The drug deal went wrong and soon turned into an armed robbery.
Mitchell is still incarcerated and bail has now been set to $50000, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The alleged accomplice, fellow former Pirate Kelly Whitney, was arrested just days after the incident near Newark Airport and is expected to take the case to trial and plead not guilty
Just days prior to the incident, former men’s basketball head coach Bobby Gonzalez threw Mitchell off of the team.
No official reason was ever given as to why Mitchell was released from the squad on the day of the NCAA Tournament selection announcements.
However, Mitchell did play a significant part in a Bergen Record article that brought to light what his opinion of Gonzalez was as a coach.
Mitchell told reporters “it’s hard to stay consistent as a player when the coach isn’t consistent” after the team’s loss to Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament.
That article was preceded by one published just days earlier in the New York Times about fellow Big East and NCAA basketball administrators’ views of Gonzalez.
“He has a tremendous skill for being able to alienate himself from everyone,” Emanuel Richardson, an assistant at the University of Arizona said in the article.
The mood of the program, and team in general, was exhibited in how they played their final game of the year, the first after the dismissal of Mitchell.
In their first game of the National Invitational Tournament, the Pirates got routed in an 87-69 upset against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
To make matters worse, junior forward Herb Pope was ejected just six minutes into the first half for punching Texas Tech’s Darko Cohadarevic below the belt.
The game took place one full day after Mitchell invaded the home on Irvington Ave. Whether the team was aware of his situation going into the Texas Tech game is still unknown..
Gonzalez was fired days later, around the exact time the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office announced the arrest of Robert Mitchell.
Nicholas Parco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org