Mitchell, Whitney court case set to resume in April

It is almost exactly one year ago today that ex-Pirates Robert Mitchell and Kelly Whitney were arrested for allegedly entering a South Orange home where eight Seton Hall students were robbed them at gunpoint.

Both Mitchell and Whitney were indicted in June and have still not been sentenced. According to Kathy Carter of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the most recent court date has been postponed. “On the request of the defense, the trial has been put off until April 18,” Carter, said. Prior to the postponement, which was announced last week, the trial was “set to resume this week,” according to Carter. Mitchell entered a guilty plea in October to three charges of criminal restraint, two charges of burglary and two charges of conspiracy of burglary, according to Carter. Those charges were reduced from the original ones when he chose to plead guilty, according to NJ.com. Mitchell faces up to three years in prison. Whitney is pleading not guilty to charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and weapons offenses, according to NJ.com and is facing up to 20 years in prison. In November, the last time both Whitney and Mitchell were in court, Judge Alfonse Cifelli ordered that text messages exchanged between the two be turned over to the defense. Although Mitchell is now pleading guilty, he has changed his plea more than once. On June 28, NJ.com reported that Mitchell confessed to the armed robbery in a videotape statement to South Orange police just days after the robbery. This information was undisclosed until then. In the tape, Mitchell admitted that he, along with Whitney, entered the home where the students lived to buy marijuana and once inside made the decision to rob them. According to the police report, the victims were tied up and beaten. Less than a month after the confession came out to the press, both Mitchell and Whitney entered not guilty pleas in court against kidnapping, aggravated assault, burglary and weapons charges. The arrest of Mitchell and Whitney at this time last year was one of many reasons Seton Hall was making news headlines at the time. Mitchell was released from the Pirates on Mar. 14, coincidentally Selection Sunday in the world of NCAA Basketball, after speaking out publicly against then men’s basketball coach Bobby Gonzalez in an article on NorthJersey.com. The Pirate’s 2009-2010 season then came to a close two nights later, as they exited the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) with a first round loss to Texas Tech, 87-69. Herb Pope threw a blatant below the belt swat at Texas Tech’s Darko Cohadarevic’s groin five minutes into the game. In lieu of this, Gonzalez was fired and the search for the next head coach of the men’s basketball program began. Just hours after former University President Msgr. Sheeran let Gonzalez go, the Essex County Prosecutors office announced that Mitchell was in custody. Just a day later, Whitney was arrested. Nicholas Parco can be reached nicholas.parco@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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