Trial begins for man accused of severely beating roommate he met on Craigslist

Danielle Jones was in coma for 24 days after Feb. 14, 2016 attack

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Liane Morejon - Reporter

MIAMI - Opening statements began Wednesday in the trial of a South Florida man accused of severely beating and stabbing his roommate, whom he met on Craigslist.

Danielle Jones told Local 10 News in June 2016 that she couldn't remember anything about Valentine's Day that year -- the day prosecutors say she was brutally attacked by her roommate, Byron Mitchell.

Police said Jones, then 23, was beaten, stabbed and choked by Mitchell, who had contacted her about renting a room in her Overtown apartment through a listing on Craigslist.

He also tried to cut off her lips and eyelids, authorities said.

Danielle Jones was searching for a roommate in downtown Miami. A man she found on Craigslist, Byron Mitchell, beat her into a coma on the night of her 23rd birthday.

Some jurors winced as they were shown photos of Jones’ injuries in court Wednesday.

Lt. Gus Cascarillas, of Miami Fire Rescue, said he responded to the scene that day and found a large pool of blood.

"There was actually a knife, and then there was a young lady on the bed with a lot of trauma or injuries, from what we found at that moment, from the neck up," he said.

Miami police Lt. Luis Sierra also testified Wednesday and said Mitchell, now 39, was "very calm" as he spoke about the incident to authorities. 

Jones spent 24 days in a coma after the attack.

"I didn't expect to come out like this and I didn't expect to look normal," Jones said. "I didn't really even expect to live because of what happened."

Jones said she had rented an apartment with another person, but her roommate decided to leave without notice.

Jones was left feeling desperate to pay her bills, so she turned to Craigslist to find a new roommate.

"I interviewed him the first time I met him," Jones said. "He was really nice and his resume looked nice. He could've fooled anyone."

Prosecutors said Mitchell snapped after one week of living with Jones, attacking her while the two were alone inside the apartment.

"I think he attacked me because I didn't like him and he liked me," Jones said.

Prosecutors said Mitchell deleted calls and texts he had previously sent to Jones, but authorities were able to recover them.  

According to authorities, Mitchell called 911 after beating Jones and claimed he attacked her in self-defense.

The state maintains Jones was the only person with visible injuries after the incident. 

Mitchell is charged with attempted murder. 

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