Anthony Mitchell, age 19, was sentenced today for the fatal robbery of 15-year-old Aiden David Paiz, the wounding of 17-year-old Tyler Driscoll, and the aggravated assault of 14-year-old Darius Arce.
Mitchell, along with his co-defendants, 15-year-old Michael DeMurro-Correll and 18-year-old Justin Lemont, were charged on November 23, 2020, after they were believed to have lured the victims to a cul-de-sac at Squirrelwood Road and Sunset Lane in Polk Township. The victims believed they were going to sell marijuana to a ‘Mikey’ for $120.00 Dollars. The transaction was arranged on Snapchat. However, it was a sham.
When the victims arrived at the spot for the sale, Mitchell, armed with an AR 15 rifle approached the passenger side window, while Demurro-Correll, armed with a 9 mm handgun approached the driver side window and asked to see the marijuana before buying it. After Driscoll handed the marijuana to him, DeMurro-Corell pulled out the handgun and pointed it at him. Mitchell fired the AR 15 from the opposite side of the car shattering the passenger window. Demurro-Correll allegedly fired multiple rounds directly into the car from the driver side. Paiz was killed, Driscoll suffered serious injuries, and Arce escaped injury. The two shooters then fled in a nearby vehicle driven by Lemont. The trio smoked the fruits of their robbery, hid the weapons in the woods, and went on their way. They were picked up the next day as the investigation focused on them. They were interviewed separately and then charged.
On October 28, 2021, Anthony Mitchell entered a guilty plea to Murder in the Third Degree, Attempted Homicide, Aggravated Assault and three (3) counts of Robbery. At his sentencing today, his lawyer asked for leniency, citing his age and acceptance of responsibility. Mitchell declined to speak. Numerous family members attended the proceeding virtually. Several of them, including Aiden’s brother and mother, addressed the court describing the effect his murder had on them. Aiden’s grandfather and uncle attended in person and described the impact of Aiden’s death on their lives. Many of the family of all three victims previously wrote impact statements which were all read by the sentencing judge, the Honorable Jonathan Mark.
First Assistant District Attorney Michael Mancuso highlighted the extensive prior record of the defendant, which began in juvenile court. These episodes included a prior threat to shoot up Pleasant Valley High School, threats to kill a family of a girl he knew, a violent assault with a knife against his sister, an armed robbery committed in Northampton County, and another robbery attempt occurring two weeks before the fatal robbery, where the defendant shot at but missed his victim. Mancuso described the defendant’s conduct and the crimes as ‘ridiculous, unnecessary, and demonstrating an extreme devaluation of human life.’ In an interesting twist, Mancuso noted that during questioning by Troopers Brian Noll and Jon Bailey, Mitchell grew emotional and cried recalling that his ‘best friends’ Dylan Beinert and Khalil Durante were killed during a robbery the year before. The alleged perpetrators in that case carried out a similar ruse, a sham marijuana purchase, to gain access to the victims. “So here we see the irony of a defendant who engages in the same conduct as those who killed his best friends, now asking for leniency.” Mancuso said.
Judge Mark spoke of all the different information he factored in to decide the appropriate sentence of the defendant. These included the details of the crimes, the ages of the victims, the defendant’s age and record, his behavior while incarcerated, past efforts to rehabilitate the defendant, the need to deter such conduct, and the effect on the community and need to protect the public. Indeed, the death of Aiden Paiz affected many of his classmates at Pleasant Valley. Mancuso noted that Brian Morgan, a Guidance counselor at the high School wrote about the need for grief counselling to help Aiden’s classmates and friends cope with his loss in the aftermath of the murder.
In the end, Mitchell was sentenced to incarceration in state prison for 38 and a half to 77 years. He will be eligible for parole when he is around 56 years old. The remaining defendants are still involved in pretrial proceedings. They are of course presumed innocent. Assistant District Attorney Dave Marra noted that there is a hearing scheduled on March 4, 2022 in the case of Michael DeMurro-Correll. Judge Mark is expected to rule on a defense motion to have the charges transferred to juvenile court. If that request is denied, trial in both his case, and that of Justin Lemont is expected to take place in November of 2022.