LEE COUNTY, Ala. — Tuesday morning, Markale Hart, the man charged with the death of former Auburn football player, Jakell Mitchell, appeared in court for a bond revocation hearing.
Hart was originally supposed to appear last Thursday for the same hearing, but was not in court due to the fact he was not transported to the Lee County Justice Center.
In late February, Hart was arrested in Dadeville on three unrelated charges of: driving under the influence, possession of a weapon and receiving stolen property. In light of the three unrelated charges, the Lee County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to have Hart’s bond revoked on his murder charge so he could remain in Lee County until his trial, which is set for June.
Tuesday, members of the Dadeville Police Department testified to what took place on the night Hart was arrested.
A Dadeville Police officer heading home from his shift noticed an erratic driver, and called it into the station. The officer was told to keep an eye on the car until other officers arrived. Once the car stopped, Hart was identified as the driver. Officers testified to smelling the faint odor of marijuana and alcohol on Hart. Officer Billy Stuart of the Dadeville Police Department conducted a field sobriety test on Hart, which the officer said Hart failed miserably. Hart blew a .16 when a breathalyzer was administered. Officers also testified to there being a gun under driver’s seat.
In addition to Hart, there was another passenger in the vehicle named Devonte Mitchell. Both Mitchell and Hart denied the gun as being theirs. Once police ran a check on it, it was reported stolen.
Assistant Police Chief, Chris Martin said that Mitchell’s father called police and told them that the gun belonged to his son. Assistant Chief Martin told the court that if the weapon did belong to Mitchell, he would be charged with receiving stolen property.
Jerry Blevins, Hart’s attorney said that it was extremely interesting that the evidence against Hart having a weapon was lacking, and that police overlooked the facts and decided to arrest Hart. He added that Mitchell and his father were threatened by local law enforcement that if Mitchell came to Tuesday’s hearing to testify that the weapon was indeed his, and that he would be charged with multiple crimes along with possible federal charges. Blevins is hopeful that when the charges are addressed in Tallapoosa County that Mitchell will accept responsibility for the gun to clear his client.
Blevins told News Three that he has faith that the weapon and receiving stolen property charge are without basis and that Judge Christopher Hughes would choose not to revoke bond on the DUI charge. Blevins also said that the state has not met the burden of proof to revoke bond.
“We understand that because Mr. Hart is charged with the murder of an Auburn football player, that he’s going to be closely scrutinized and watched by law enforcement,” Blevins said, “I think Mr. Hart recognizes that he shouldn’t have drank alcohol on the night in question. We think it’s just wrong for the police to pile on charges here if the objective is to get him off the street pending the upcoming trial on the murder charge.”
Chief Assistant District Attorney for Lee County, Jessica Ventiere told News Three after the hearing:
“I would say that the evidence presented today was that Markale Hart violated the terms and conditions of his bond. While out on bond, he picked up three new offenses including the possession of a firearm.”
Jakell Mitchell’s father, Mario, also appeared in court for the hearing. He said that things are still pretty fresh, but that he was not surprised by the new charges.
“It’s just one thing after another,” Mitchell said. “It’s my personal opinion that if he didn’t stay locked up, and you stopped him next week, he’ll have a gun.”
Blevins and Ventiere believe that the decision on bond could be in by the end of the week.