OSSIPEE — A homeless woman accused of driving while intoxicated and leading police on a car chase in an allegedly stolen vehicle pleaded not guilty to several charges last week.
Shannon Mitchell, 33, is accused of receiving stolen property, disobeying an officer, driving after revocation or suspension and driving while intoxicated (on White Mountain Highway). The most serious allegation is the receiving stolen property charge, which alleges she had a Volkswagen Jetta belonging to a Dover man. This charge is a Class A felony.
The driving after revocation or suspension charge says she was convicted of aggravated driving while intoxicated in July of last year.
Mitchell pleaded not guilty at her appearance in front of Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius on July 9. She was represented by public defender Amanda Schor and prosecuted by Assistant County Attorney Matt Conley. Schor was there by video.
Conley said Mitchell's conduct shows there would be a "very, very serious risk of flight" if she were released. He recommended she be held on $1,000 cash.
"After she took off from the stop, she was operating at speeds between 70 mph and 100 mph with significant lane control issues," said Conley.
"The chase continued for a time after spike strips were engaged with the vehicle moving between 5 and 10 mph at that point," he said.
"At one point, the vehicle and the defendant swerved into the opposite lane and apparently nearly got into a head-on collision with another vehicle."
Conley said during the chase, Mitchell did a U-turn and struck a police vehicle before fleeing on foot. Conley said more charges were likely.
He said her record includes driving while intoxicated and endangering the welfare of children.
Schor asked Ignatius to release Mitchell on personal recognizance. "She is not able to afford anywhere near $1,000 or anything at all," Schor said.
She said Mitchell has been living in Dover and has been in New Hampshire for a year and also that Mitchell has children ages 4 and 5 years old. Mitchell, said Schor, was to start a new job in Hudson on July 10.
Mitchell is in counseling in Dover for mental health, behavior and substance abuse issues.
"The conduct that the state has mentioned with this incident is all alleged," said Schor. "Shannon maintains she's not guilty."
Schor said Mitchell has not conceded that she's a flight risk and that she has "every reason to want to come to court."
But Conley said she is accused of fleeing from the police and has been convicted in the past of failing to appear.
According to a police probable cause affidavit filed by Wakefield Police Lt. Christopher Waldron, the story begins on July 8 at 11:16 p.m. when officer Edward Correia stopped Mitchell, who was reportedly driving the blue Jetta, for following too closely, failure to dim lights and yellow line violations.
Waldron writes that Correia observed that Mitchell’s “eyes and eye lids were droopy, she had slurred and slow speech, and decreased motor skills.”
The affidavit says Mitchell told Correia that she lived with the man in whose name the car was registered and he was aware she had the Jetta. Dispatch told Correia that Mitchell’s license had been suspended for aggravated driving while intoxicated.
“Shannon (Mitchell) fled the stop and attempted to to evade police before further investigation could be conducted,” said Waldron. “Shannon was spike stripped and both front tires were blown out in Ossipee near the scenic overlook.
"Shannon refused to stop and continued on for several miles, eventually being apprehended near the intersection of Annie Nicholes and Chickville Roads in Ossipee.”
The police complaints indicate that the chase began in East Wakefield.
She was taken to the Carroll County House of Corrections where she had to be restrained for “being combative,” said Waldron.
“Shannon said something like, ‘If the car is stolen, let the rookie figure it out.’"
Dover police told Wakefield police that the car's owner said the vehicle had been stolen and that he didn't know Mitchell, according to Waldron, who also said that Dover police said Mitchell had been kicked out of a homeless shelter and was homeless.
Ignatius ordered Mitchell held on $1,000 cash bail, as Conley requested.
"The case after spike strips is all allegations in the affidavit," said Ignatius. "It's not proven, but it's what I can consider at this point because it's what's been alleged ... I think the state has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that something beyond PR bail is necessary to ensure you are here."
Mitchell is scheduled for a status conference on Aug. 23. The target date for her Felonies First indictment is Oct. 8.