A New Orleans man with a history of domestic abuse was convicted Friday (Jan. 12) of killing his ex-wife in her Metairie home, ignoring their young children’s pleas before shooting her in the chest and head.
Ronald Mitchell Sr., 39, faces spending the rest of his life in prison for the second-degree murder of Derice Bailey, 35. Mitchell’s history of domestic violence and drug abuse in the relationship dated to 2007 in both New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, but Bailey repeatedly gave him second chances, according to evidence presented during the trial.
In Bailey’s final days, Mitchell accused her of cheating, a baseless accusation that culminated Dec. 2, 2016, with his shooting her as she stood in the kitchen of her Aero Street home and professed her love for him, according to trial evidence.
“He obsessed about his ex-wife cheating on him. And lo and behold, his ex-wife wasn’t cheating on him. What a tragic, tragic mistake he made,” Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish told jurors in closing argument.
“He looked at her. He aimed at her and he fired. And he fired again. His own words shows intent: ‘If I’m going to jail, I’m going for a reason,’” Assistant District Attorney Molly Massey told jurors. “He wanted this breakup to be the last, and that equals murder.”
Mitchell also was found guilty of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, for retrieving a .38-caliber revolver he stashed at a vacant house before going to Bailey’s home. He was prohibited by state law from possessing firearms because of a 2003 conviction of the simple robbery of a Metairie business, for which he received a 5-year prison sentence.
Mitchell and Bailey were divorced. In the months before her death, she and Mitchell were attempting reconciliation. On the night she died, several of her friends went to her home to attempt to mediate the ongoing dispute over his accusations of her infidelity, according to trial evidence.
In the home, Mitchell brandished the revolver and forced the friends out of the house, leading them to call 911. He tried to force out their children, then ages 9 and 13, but they remained with their mother. The children begged their father to not shoot their mother.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived but were unable to get inside the house. The deputies heard the gunshots. Moments later, Mitchell emerged from the house with his arms raised and surrendered, telling the officers he was “tired of her cheating,” Rish said. Deputies found his revolver inside the house.
Mitchell later confessed to Detective Jean Lincoln, telling her that Bailey did not deserve to die as she did.
“He said he loved her to death. He loved her to death,” Rish told jurors, recounting Mitchell’s confession.
At trial, however, Mitchell’s attorney told jurors he was defending himself, suggesting he felt threatened by a man hiding in Bailey’s garage, and that the killing was justified. Mitchell did not testify in his own defense.
At the time he killed Bailey, Mitchell was awaiting trial on charges of domestic abuse battery and making harassing phone calls in Jefferson Parish, both involving his ex-wife as the victim.
The jury of eight women and four men that was seated on Tuesday deliberated 15 minutes before returning with the verdicts at 5 p.m., Friday.
Judge E. Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Mitchell on Jan. 25.
Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Molly Massey prosecuted the case.