The arrest of a DFL senator accused of breaking into her stepmother's home to retrieve several of her late father's belongings has roiled the State Capitol and complicated the final weeks of the 2024 session.

Sen. Nicole Mitchell, a former meteorologist and Air Force veteran, was charged with felony first-degree burglary after her arrest in Detroit Lakes earlier this week. Here's what we know about the case.

The arrest

A Detroit Lakes woman, later revealed to be the senator's stepmother, called police to report an active burglary at her home at 4:45 a.m. Monday. Detroit Lakes police responded and found Mitchell in the basement "dressed in all black clothing and a black hat," according to charges filed the following day.

Mitchell told police as she was being detained that she had told her stepmother, "I was just trying to get a couple of my dad's things because you wouldn't talk to me anymore."

Her father, Roderick Mitchell, died last year and his estate was settled in January. He did not leave a will and a court gave his estate, valued at $172,931, to his surviving spouse.

Officers found a sliding window leading to the basement had been opened with a black backpack stuck in it. Police found two laptops, a cellphone and Nicole Mitchell's driver's license along with her Senate identification in the bag. She told officers "I know I did something bad," according to the charges.

Mitchell was charged with first-degree burglary, a felony.

Mitchell's response

The senator from Woodbury posted on Facebook Wednesday claiming she was checking on her stepmother, who Mitchell suggested had suffered a "decline due to Alzheimer's and associated paranoia."

"Unfortunately, I startled this close relative, exacerbating paranoia, and I was accused of stealing, which I absolutely deny," Mitchell wrote.

Her attorney, Bruce Ringstrom Jr., told a Star Tribune reporter that Mitchell was attempting a welfare check on her stepmother.

Mitchell's stepmother told the Associated Press that she's afraid of her stepdaughter and previously provided Mitchell with a small container of her late husband's ashes.

Consequences at the Capitol

Senate Republicans filed an ethics complaint against Mitchell Wednesday, arguing that she violated chamber rules that require members to "adhere to the highest standard of ethical conduct." GOP lawmakers accused Mitchell of posting false or misleading claims when she published her Facebook post and violating chamber rules. They contrasted the social media explanation with the statements Mitchell gave police when she was arrested.

Senate rules require the ethics subcommittee to act on a complaint within 30 days, which means the Legislature could take it up after lawmakers adjourn on May 20.

Democrats hold a one-seat majority in the Senate, which means they need Mitchell's vote to pass legislation without bipartisan support. She has appeared remotely since her arrest.

Republicans have accused Senate Democrats of holding up the process to protect their majority and have demanded Mitchell resign in the meantime. The senator's attorney said he's advised Mitchell against resigning and said he doubts Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy will ask her to.

Gov. Tim Walz told MPR he's reserving judgment pending additional information.

What's next?

Judge Gretchen Thilmony set Mitchell's bail at $40,000 without conditions. Mitchell was allowed to leave the Becker County jail without posting cash or bond as long as she follows certain conditions. She can't leave the state for anything other than official legislative business or to visit relatives in Cass County, North Dakota.

Her next hearing is set for 3:30 p.m. on June 10.

Star Tribune staff writers Ryan Faircloth and Briana Bierschbach contributed to this story.