Jail officials confirmed to investigative reporter Mark Winne that high-profile inmate Matthew Mitchell was the victim of gang violence over the weekend. The gang members who attacked Mitchell not only beat him but also took a picture of his bloody face with an illegal cell phone and sent it to their friends on the outside, according to Mitchell's longtime girlfriend, Veronica Watts.
Winne spoke to the chief official at the Fulton County Jail, who said this incident is an example of the gangs' growing power in the jail. "They definitely pose a problem when it comes to maintaining security," said Interim Jail Commander Lt. Col. Mark Adger.
Adger blatantly admitted gangs are very disruptive in the jail right now, including being responsible for this recent attack.
"I believe they were elements of the gangs we have here in the jail, either 30 Deep or Goodfellas," said Adger, regarding the beating Mitchell suffered in his cell.
Channel 2 covered the trial of Mitchell, who, along with co-defendant Prentice McNeil, was convicted last November of murdering alleged 30 Deep member Christopher Copeland in 2007. Authorities recovered the murder weapon thanks to a tip from Watts. Watts, the star witness in Mitchell's murder trial, disappeared shortly before the trial. After she came back voluntarily from Florida, Watts testified that Mitchell's mother, Mary Brooks, gave her money and told her to leave the state so she wouldn't have to testify against Mitchell.
Mitchell was serving a life sentence at Macon State Prison when he was transferred back to the Fulton County Jail on May 5 as a witness in a separate but related trial for McNeil, his co-defendant.
Watts said Mitchell told his family he awakened in his bunk to find half a dozen inmates brutally beating him.
"His face is completely swollen. His eye is swollen shut and busted open. His nose is swollen and broken," said Watts.
Adger said Mitchell was placed in protective custody after he was released from Grady.
Watts said Mitchell is mystified as to where corrections officers were during the beating. Adger said this incident is under investigation but confirmed rounds were made on schedule.
Defense lawyer Dennis Scheib is representing a co-defendant in the case for which Mitchell was brought to the Fulton County Jail, but his understanding is neither the prosecution nor the defense requested him.
"Basically the judge articulated it was a mistake," said Scheib.
Channel 2 Action News tried to review the case file to see who requested Mitchell as a witness at the trial, but it was in Superior Court Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams' chambers and the request was denied.
Adger said he should have been notified by the courts of the circumstances surrounding Mitchell's case before he was brought to the jail so that Mitchell would have been placed in protective custody from the start.
Watts said Mitchell is fighting his conviction but he shouldn't have to fight for his life in a jail cell.