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Escaped Lee felon caught in Big Stone Gap

Wes Bunch • Feb 3, 2014 at 10:16 PM

BIG STONE GAP — A Southwest Virginia felon who was the subject of a weekend-long search after he fled the Lee County Courthouse last week was arrested Monday afternoon in Wise County.

Jeremy Lynn Mitchell, 37, of Big Stone Gap, was reportedly located at about 4 p.m. Monday hiding in a residence in Big Stone Gap, according to a statement released by the Wise County Sheriff’s Office.

Mitchell was taken into custody by the Wise County’s Sheriff’s Response Team, the Big Stone Gap Police Department, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and agents with the Virginia State Police and U.S. Marshals Service.

Authorities began their hunt for Mitchell Friday afternoon when he allegedly ran from the Lee County Courthouse in Jonesville minutes after a jury found him guilty of malicious wounding and unlawful wounding at the end of a two-day trial.

Circuit Court Judge Tammy McElyea sentenced Mitchell to a total of 21 years in prison despite his absence from the hearing.

Lee County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stacey Estep Munsey said Mitchell asked if he could be excused from court for a short time due to an illness just prior to fleeing the premises.

Once it became apparent Mitchell had left the courthouse, Munsey said McElyea gave him 40 minutes to return before proceeding with the sentencing hearing. McElyea reportedly told the court that Mitchell had forfeited his right to further participate by fleeing.

Because he was free on bond at the time, Mitchell was not being handled as a prisoner during Friday’s court appearance.

The charges against Mitchell stemmed from an incident involving his then-wife, Ashley Reddish, at their Pennington Gap home in March 2011.

According to evidence presented during the trial, Mitchell became enraged with Reddish after seeing her with her ex-husband and began to choke her and kick her repeatedly in the head and back.

Mitchell reportedly allowed Reddish to call an ambulance the following morning, but he threatened to harm her 2-year-old son if she told how she sustained the injuries. Mitchell reportedly told Reddish to blame the injuries on an ATV accident.

Medical records presented at trial showed the victim suffered cuts that required stitches, a broken nose and two fractured vertebrae.

Reddish testified that following treatment she returned home to protect her son, and said that Mitchell forced her to call her 11-year-old daughter, who was staying with her ex-husband at the time, to tell her that she could not come over that day.

Reddish told the court that she began crying on the phone, which prompted Mitchell to take it from her and beat her on the arms and legs with it. Mitchell also reportedly beat Reddish with a metal broom to the point that it broke into three pieces and caused a laceration that required more stitches.

Shortly after that beating, Reddish said she persuaded Mitchell to let her hide in the barn at her house once he became convinced someone heard her cries on the phone and called authorities.

Reddish was able to contact authorities after successfully escaping from the barn. Mitchell was taken into custody by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office later the same day.

During the trial, Mitchell testified that Reddish had been injured in an ATV accident and had caused the laceration herself in order to obtain pain pills. Rescue squad and hospital personnel testified that Reddish never requested pain medication.

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