Anthony J. Mitchell was sentenced Tuesday afternoon to nearly 22 years in prison for fatally stabbing his girlfriend in February.
Mitchell, 17, was certified as an adult and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in May to killing Anna Hurd, 16. For the first time Tuesday, authorities said that Hurd was stabbed once in the heart during the Feb. 23 attack in a Maplewood park. Authorities hadn’t informed her family of the detail before sentencing, causing Hurd’s father, Patrick Hurd, to walk out of the courtroom.
Hurd’s mother, Jennifer Hutchings, told Ramsey District Court Judge Gail Chang Bohr that the murder has destroyed their family. Hutchings said that the stress and grief have prevented her from working and caused her and her husband, Hurd’s stepfather, to separate. Hurd’s younger twin siblings dropped out of school and refuse to attend grief counseling, she said.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve done, and it’s killing me,” Hutchings said.
Hutchings read a letter from Hurd’s sister, Nicollette Hurd: “I miss Anna’s laugh, her over-protectiveness.”
Mitchell and Hurd were walking through a Maplewood park about 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 23 when he stabbed her four times in her front torso. He was following her as she walked from his house to go spend the night at male friend’s house. Hurd was ignoring Mitchell, and eventually pushed him away and said she didn’t want to be with him anymore.
Hurd was supposed to board a bus at 5 p.m. that day and move to Texas to live with her mother and stepfather. Mitchell testified at his plea hearing that he planned to go to Texas with Hurd, but she told him in the park that she didn’t want him to accompany her.
Mitchell testified that after she pushed him, he stabbed her with a folding knife that fell out of his sweatpants.
Hurd fled, but Mitchell gave chase and stabbed her once in the back. He dragged her body into nearby brush to hide it, he testified.
Mitchell’s mother called 911 about 4:29 a.m. He gave police conflicting stories, including one version in which he discovered Hurd’s body and chased away a male suspect. In another version, he named a suspect, said assistant Ramsey County attorney Rosita Severin, adding that Mitchell’s actions show a lack of remorse.
Mitchell told probation that Hurd used drugs at a party in the late hours of Feb. 22 and early hours of Feb. 23, but that was proved to be a lie via autopsy and toxicology results, Severin said.
“Anthony Mitchell continues to lie about what he did in this case,” she said. “This was a brutal death, and Anna Hurd did suffer.”
Mitchell declined to address the court, but his public defender, Susan Scarborough, spoke briefly on his behalf, saying that he has “daily regret and remorse.”
“I think this young man is truly tortured by what he has done, and he does want the court to know that,” Scarborough said.
Mitchell hung his head in both hands throughout his sentencing, wiping away tears with his palms and sniffling on occasion. Hurd’s aunt, Penny Griffin, said they were the same fake tears he shed when he feigned innocence and heartbreak in the days after Hurd’s murder.
Griffin and Hutchings said Mitchell led them to the bloody murder scene and attended a memorial service while pretending to be innocent.
The plea agreement was for a sentence of 260 months in prison. The judge could have sentenced him to more time, but that would have allowed him to withdraw his guilty plea. He has to serve about 14 years before becoming eligible for parole.
“It’s not right,” Hutchings said. “That’s less time than Anna was alive on this earth.”
Mitchell’s family made this statement, in part, Tuesday: “We loved her, welcoming Anna into our lives, supporting her in successes and struggles, and we took her in when she had nowhere to go. We miss her, and we are so sorry she is no longer here. … Anthony’s family and friends love him, care for him, hurt with him, support him in the challenges he faces, and will always be people he can count on.”