Murder Trial of Jim Mitchell's Son Begins

NOVATO, Calif.—The murder trial of James Raphael Mitchell, the 29-year-old son of porn pioneer Jim Mitchell, began yesterday in Marin County courtroom. Mitchell is accused of using a baseball bat to murder his estranged girlfriend, Danielle Keller, 29, in 2009 outside their Novato home as she held their 1-year-old son. Mitchell's attorney says the killing was not premeditated and that "there was no intent to kill."

"Deputy district attorneys Leon Kousharian and Charles Cacciatore began their case against Mitchell today by playing a recording of a 911 call to Novato police that came in around 7 p.m. that day," reported the San Francisco Examiner. "A neighbor tells the police dispatcher her husband came to Keller’s aid, but that Keller had severe head injuries and was already dead. She told the dispatcher the attacker had fled with the child."

Mitchell's lawyer, Stuart Hanlon, told jurors that his client will take the stand to explain why he went to Keller's apartment on July 12, 2009, despite the fact that restraining orders had been issued in San Francisco and in Marin that prohibited him from coming within 100 yards of Keller, who had custody of their child.

Mitchell is charged with murder, kidnapping, child abduction, child endangerment, stalking and murder during a kidnapping.

The Examiner reports that prosecutors told the jury that DNA tests have "determined that blood splatters found on Mitchell’s pants and shoes were Keller’s, and that a bloody bat found two feet from Keller’s body had a fingerprint from Mitchell’s left index finger."

As AVN has previously reported, Mitchell's father, porn legend Jim Mitchell, ran the infamous O'Farrell Theater in San Francisco with his younger brother Artie. The brothers produced the classic 1972 Marilyn Chambers hit Behind the Green Door, The Resurrection of Eve, Autobiography of a Flea, and Sodom and Gomorrah; along the way, they were arrested hundreds of times and successfully beat numerous obscenity charges.

Jim shot Artie to death in 1991 and was sentenced to three years in San Quentin State Prison for involuntary manslaughter. Jim died of a heart attack at his Sonoma County ranch home in July of 2007. He was 63.