Porn czar's son charged with murder

July 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The son of a Bay Area porn king is facing murder charges. James Mitchell is accused of killing the mother of his child in Novato.

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A sense of déjà vu surrounds the case. James Mitchell goes by the same name as his late father, James Mitchell Sr., who owned the O'Farrell Theater and murdered his brother in 1991.

"Maybe it is biblical after all because it seems like they've become cursed," said former porn actor George McDonald.

McDonald was shocked when he heard that the son of Jim Mitchell, the czar of x-rated movies, had been charged with murdering the mother of his young child. Mitchell Sr. went to prison in the 1990s for fatally shooting his brother Artie.

Police say on Sunday night, 27-year-old James Mitchell beat Danielle Keller to death with a baseball bat in her backyard. Investigators say he then took off with their child Samantha, who just turned one Sunday. Police arrested Mitchell around midnight near Sacramento. They say the baby was unharmed.

McDonald starred in two dozen Mitchell Brothers' porn films including "Behind the Green Door" with Marilyn Chambers. He says Jim and his brother Artie were pioneers in the counter-cultural movement. But, everything changed when Jim killed his brother.

"Now what are they known as? Murderers. Family of killers. I mean, what a terrible, terrible legacy," said McDonald.

Mitchell died two years ago of a heart attack after serving time in prison for manslaughter. Sunday's murder occurred on the anniversary of his death. His friend, former Mayor Willie Brown, says Mitchell had many important friends in the city who frequented the brothers' O'Farrell Theatre.

"You might go there after a wonderful dinner and two or three glasses of wine. They had a good book on all of the important people in this city," he told ABC7.

According to court documents, James Mitchell Jr. had been arrested early last year for assaulting Keller at their San Francisco apartment. He was arrested again last month for violating a restraining order when he barged into Keller's Novato home.

Keller's mother Claudia Stevens says in recent weeks, Mitchell had been leaving threatening phone calls.

"She doesn't answer the phone. Of course he's just been calling a lot and leaving really bizarre messages, just crying.

And, I didn't have any thought that he would come back here today," she said.

Monday evening, friends and family of Danielle Keller chose to grieve by hitting the streets. They walked from the Novato Police Department to Danielle's home.

Mitchell pleaded guilty to the domestic violence charges in San Francisco in February of last year. He was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to stay away from Keller. His probation officer told ABC7 that as far as he know, Mitchell was attending domestic violence classes.

Former District Attorney Terence Hallinan will be representing Mitchell during his arraignment Tuesday.

Monday evening, friends and family of Danielle Keller chose to grieve by hitting the streets. They walked from the Novato Police Department to Danielle's home.

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