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Woman Is Charged With Killing Sister

July 24, 1997| From Associated Press

OAKLAND — A woman suspected of killing her sister and then assuming her identity was charged with murder Wednesday.

Sarah Mitchell, 47, was charged in Alameda County Municipal Court in the death of her sister, Stevie Allman. Bail was denied for Mitchell, who deferred entering a plea for two weeks.

Outside the courtroom, Mitchell's attorney, Diane Bellas, called the murder charge purely speculative. She said she is worried that the investigation may have drawn conclusions prematurely. "[The amended criminal complaint] does not even begin to suggest she [Mitchell] could be the suspect," she said.

Alameda County Deputy Dist. Atty. Terry Wiley said he could not comment on the case.

The body of Allman, 52, was found in a freezer in the sisters' home after fire gutted the house July 1.

Police say Mitchell--posing as Allman--blamed the fire on drug dealers retaliating for her crime-fighting efforts. Her supposed plight had drawn the support of neighbors and Gov. Pete Wilson.

But after finding Allman's body, police arrested Mitchell on a forgery charge after she tried to cash a check made out to Allman.

Police had reported that Mitchell had a record of welfare fraud and prostitution-related convictions.

But the Oakland Tribune reported Wednesday that that was a mistake.

The newspaper said the mix-up happened when Mitchell's name was given as an alias by another woman who was arrested about 25 years ago.

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