McMinn father's plea deal means no more jail time in daughter's death

10:16 PM, May 12, 2010   |    comments
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Mitchell DeLashmitt

A McMinn County father has reached a plea deal in the death of his daughter, and will spend no more time behind bars.

It's a relief according to Mitchell Delashmitt's family but an injustice according to many in the community.

Mitchell Delashmitt was arrested in June 2003 after the body of his daughter, Angel, was found in a pond at his rural residence.

Neighbor Bob Conine says he watched Delashmitt pull the 14 month old out a small pond that sat between their houses.

"I looked back up and he was down in the corner of the pond there, holding that baby up by it's leg," Conine said.

Conine called 9-1-1 and raced over to help as best he could under the direction of the emergency dispatcher.

"I tried to do CPR but the baby was done dead," Conine said.   "I never even dreamed what happened happened.  My thoughts when I was down there trying to save the baby was that the baby got loose and got in the pond, but there are just too many things that come up.  There ain't no way the baby got to that pond."

Days later, Delashmitt was charged with murder and rape.

"I was about as floored about that as I have finding out he got away with it.  I think it's just a sad day for justice right now.  It's hard to comprehend," he said.

Delashmitt originally told officers he fell asleep while watching her. He later gave another statement that led to the rape and homicide charges.

In 2007, a judge threw out that statement, saying investigators had ignored Delashmitt's request for an attorney, so it could not be used against him.

He has since been free on bond.

Jury selection began Tuesday in his 1st degree murder trial.  Wednesday morning, attornies revealed that Delashmitt had pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and child neglect.  He willwas sentenced to time served, so will spend no additional time behind bars.  He will be on probation for five years. 

Prosecutors said they decided to proceed with the plea agreement over concerns about the competency of Dr. Ronald Toolsie, who conducted the autopsy on the girl. It concluded she died of shaken baby syndrome.

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