Click here to learn more about Officer James D. Mitchell, but first hear the quotes from his loved ones.
Officer James D. Mitchell
Summary: James D. Mitchell Jr., 42, an Amarillo police officer, had just finished his shift and was driving home, still in uniform. Mitchell saw Hafdahl's car swerve around his truck and watched as it veered off the road. He stopped to investigate. When he saw Hafdahl running away, he ordered him to stop. With his revolver drawn, Mitchell pursued Hafdahl through the yard until Hafdahl was stopped by a locked gate. Hafdahl then turned and killed Mitchell at close range with four shots from his 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. Mitchell never returned fire. After shooting Mitchell, Hafdahl fled the scene, only to turn himself in later that night. Shawn David Terry, 22, was arrested near the scene of the shooting. Daniel Louis Helgan, 24, was arrested later in New Mexico. Dr. Ralph Erdmann, a forensic pathologist, reconstructed the crime scene at trial and testified that based on the distance and angle from which each shot was fired, only one shot (the one in Mitchell's wrist) could have been fired when Mitchell was standing. Daniel Helgran received a sentence of one year's probation for failure to stop and render aid. After Hafdahl's trial, Dr. Ralph Erdmann pleaded guilty to perjury and tampering with government records in other cases he testified in.
The widow and daughters of slain policeman James Mitchell came to Canyon to see a judge set the execution date for the killer of their husband and father. "After 16 years it's about time. We have been through it every step of the way, and I'm looking forward to reaching a conclusion. It has taken a toll on my family," said Ellen Mitchell Stone, the widow of Amarillo Police Department Sgt. James Mitchell. "My girls were 8 and 9 when their father was killed. Now, they have graduated from college, are married and have jobs."
After Thursday's execution, the husband of Mitchell's daughter, Dean Clapper, read from a prepared statement. "Tonight's execution cannot begin to erase the years of heartache, grief and emotional loss that Hafdahl's actions have caused our family," Clapper said. "Never to be regained is the innocence of two children, the loss of childhood memories or recover the loss of a loving husband and father.”In conclusion, our family has stood together facing the most evil of individuals. Tonight, we have finally obtained peace."