JEREMY LYNN MITCHELL
JONESVILLE — A Southwest Virginia felon is being sought by Lee County authorities after he allegedly faked an illness Friday in order to flee from court.
Despite going missing, Jeremy Lynn Mitchell, 37, of Big Stone Gap, was still sentenced to 21 years in state prison after a jury found him guilty in Lee County Circuit Court of malicious wounding and unlawful wounding.
Those charges stemmed from the beating of a woman that took place over a two-day period in March 2011.
Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons said Friday night that local, state and federal authorities were still attempting to locate Mitchell, who is now wanted on a fugitive warrant. He was reportedly last seen earlier in the day in the Big Stone Gap area.
Parsons described Mitchell as a violent felon and said members of the public should not attempt to approach him, but contact authorities instead.
Mitchell reportedly went missing shortly after 2:30 p.m. Friday during a recess between his trial and sentencing hearing.
According to Lee County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shawn Hines, Mitchell told McElyea he was feeling ill and asked if he could be excused to go to the restroom.
Because Mitchell was free on bond at the time, Parsons said he was not being handled as a prisoner during his court appearance.
After having his request granted, Mitchell allegedly fled the courthouse grounds, Hines said.
McElyea reportedly gave Mitchell’s attorney until 3:15 to locate his client. Hines said McElyea waited over 40 minutes before proceeding with the sentencing hearing.
During the hearing, McElyea ordered Mitchell to serve a 20-year prison sentence for his malicious wounding conviction plus an additional year on the unlawful wounding charge.
Parsons said anyone with information concerning Mitchell’s whereabouts should contact (276) 346-7777.
Parsons also noted that Mitchell has shaved his head and lost weight since his most recent booking photo was taken.