Ind. inmate charged with murder in deputy’s strangulation death, faces death penalty
The death penalty filing cites four aggravating circumstances, including that Deputy Durm was killed while performing “his duty as a law enforcement officer”
INDIANAPOLIS — A jail inmate accused of killing a sheriff’s deputy in Indianapolis during an escape attempt while he was being moved in a van was charged Thursday with murder and prosecutors said they are seeking the death penalty against him.
Orlando Mitchell, 34, used his handcuff chain to strangle Deputy John Durm, 61, as the deputy was returning him Monday to the Criminal Justice Center in Indianapolis following a hospital visit, authorities said.
Mitchell was formally charged Thursday with two counts of murder and one count each of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and escape.
Marion County prosecutors filed court paperwork Thursday seeking the death penalty against Mitchell if he’s convicted in Durm’s slaying. That filing cites four aggravating circumstances, including that Durm was killed while performing “his duty as a law enforcement officer.”
At the time of Durm’s killing, Mitchell was awaiting trial for the killing of his ex-girlfriend, Krystal Walton. He had been jailed in that killing since September 2022.
“For decades, Deputy John Durm served our community with honor and dignity. Now, it is our duty to secure justice for Deputy Durm and his family,” prosecutor Ryan Mears said in a statement.
The Marion County public defender’s office, which is representing Mitchell, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the case.
Authorities said Durm was returning Mitchell to the Criminal Justice Center on Monday when the inmate used his handcuff chain to strangle the deputy after he opened the van’s rear door.
Mitchell then found Durm’s handcuff key, unlocked himself and drove the van a short distance from the detention center before crashing into a wooden pole, authorities said. Other deputies then returned him to custody.