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Accused Little Rock gang member, wife, father charged with witness bribery; judge says 'sinister' if true

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A 41-year-old accused Little Rock gang member, his wife and father were charged Tuesday with witness bribery, something a Pulaski County circuit judge called "sinister" if true.

Prosecutors report that police have phone recordings of the jailed defendant, Machita Decosta "Frog" Mitchell discussing with his 62-year-old father, Machita Mitchell Sr., how to pay off the state's two chief witnesses in the younger man's pending trial on charges of felon in possession of a firearm and terroristic threatening.

The recordings are also said to include the younger Mitchell talking with his wife, 33-year-old Detra Mitchell, about paying the witnesses.

One of the witnesses then joins the conversation and talks about how the younger Machita Mitchell has helped him pay his "light bill" and says that he's doing "everything in his power" to help Mitchell get out of jail.

Judge Chris Piazza recommended that authorities ask federal prosecutors to review the evidence against the Mitchells.

"If proven, [the actions] are way out of bounds," the judge said. "They are shocking."

Bribery warrants for the three Mitchells were issued Tuesday by Pulaski County District Judge Wayne Gruber. The charge is a Class C felony that carries up to 10 years in prison.

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Defense attorney Cara Boyd Connors told the judge Tuesday that she had just learned about the bribery accusations and was not prepared to address them until she could review them and consult with co-counsel Maximillan Sprinkle.

Prosecutors disclosed the accusations in court filings to Piazza, who is presiding over the younger Mitchell's pending gun and marijuana charges.

The bribery accusations are reportedly based on recordings made Sept. 5 of phone calls the defendant made from the Pulaski County jail to his father and wife after the witnesses requested that the charges against Mitchell be dropped. All inmate phone calls at the Pulaski County jail are recorded.

According to the account of the recordings provided to the judge Tuesday by deputy prosecutor Amanda Fields, "Mr. Mitchell ... asked if his father had given them the money yet. Mr. Mitchell became angry when his father told him that he had given the witnesses the money because they had to pay their light bill. Mr. Mitchell then told his father that he and 'Dede' told them not to 'give them that s✳✳✳t until they come out with the f✳✳✳✳✳g prosecutor."

"The defendant then called his wife, Detra Mitchell approximately four minutes later. Mr. Mitchell's wife confirms that his father gave them the money," Fields wrote. "She said that she had told the witnesses they would not be able to get their money until they came to the prosecutor's office tomorrow."

Fields reported that the younger Machita Mitchell provided his wife with the phone number of one of the witnesses, who then joins them in the phone call.

That witness, 49-year-old Tyrone Nutt of Little Rock, said he was doing what he could to help Mitchell, and "begged the defendant 'Please believe me. You gave me your word, I'm giving you my word.'"

"Mr. Nutt references that the defendant helped him pay his light bill, and that the defendant says that 'he's got him when he gets out,'" Fields wrote. "The defendant also told Mr. Nutt what to say in his meeting with the prosecutor. He also told Mr. Nutt to contact Mr. Mitchell's attorney and tell them what he told [prosecutors]."

The prosecutor also reported that Nutt and his girlfriend Loretta Threadgill, 40, recanted the terroristic threatening accusations against the younger Mitchell on Sept. 6, the day after the phone calls. The couple were taken to the prosecutors' office for that meeting in an orange Chevrolet HHR that is registered to the younger Mitchell's wife, the filing states.

The younger Mitchell, who has a previous federal cocaine trafficking conviction, has been jailed since July, after a June police raid on the family home in Little Rock turned up 84 pounds of marijuana, some guns and $23,700 in a safe, according to reports. He is scheduled to be arraigned in that case next week.

Prosecutors say he told police that the drugs belonged to him. In a court hearing early this year, police described Mitchell as a longtime gang member.

In October 2008, he was sentenced to 5 years on probation for brandishing a gun at the scene of a midtown Little Rock shooting in which a woman was killed while trying to break up a fight.

Metro on 09/13/2017

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