AUSTIN (KXAN) — Less than two weeks ago, a Travis County judge sentenced Timothy Mitchell to 200 days in jail. But by New Year’s Eve, Mitchell was back out on the streets.
Mitchell was charged with assault bodily injury — a Class A misdemeanor — for hitting a woman on the Congress Avenue bridge in downtown Austin and beating up a man who intervened.
The attack happened in October.
“I was infuriated for several reasons,” said Mark Dolan. “I thought he got off light with the sentence in the first place. Two, I went down there, made the effort to read the victim statement, assuming that would matter.”
Back in October, Dolan was jogging when he saw Mitchell randomly start punching a woman. The woman and her friends were visiting Austin from out of town.
Dolan said he intervened and started walking away when Mitchell punched him from behind.
He’s still doing physical therapy.
“I had an ear injury. Contusion in my head. Stitches in my mouth, my lip, my forehead,” he said.
On December 18, Dolan read a statement in a courtroom for himself and the woman Mitchell attacked.
The judge in the case told us she was expecting a jury trial, but the prosecutor and defense asked that she accept the 200-day sentence after reaching a deal. The maximum sentence for Class A misdemeanors is one year in county jail.
On New Year’s Eve, however, Dolan said he received an email saying Mitchell was being released.
When Mitchell was sentenced, he had already served 73 days in jail. That, combined with credits he earned through manual labor, led to his early release 85 days into his 200-day sentence. That’s according to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
They told us one day worked can take one day off the sentence, but each case is different.
News of the October attack had reached many people who live downtown, including one woman who reached out KXAN when she spotted Mitchell on New Year’s Eve.
“I was shocked when I saw him because I recognized his face immediately,” she said. “I was like wow, is that really the guy? I’m gravely concerned especially because I saw him twice in less than 24 hours, within the same two blocks, and this is a very walkable area, frequented by residents as well as people that walk around downtown and people that are from out of town.”
“The whole process needs to be looked at I think,” Dolan said he wants to talk to state representatives about programs that reduce violent offenders’ time in jail. “Just talk to them from the victim’s perspective.”