SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – James Raphael “Rafe” Mitchell, son of late porn mogul Jim Mitchell, on Friday pleaded not guilty to charges he murdered his former girlfriend and kidnapped their infant daughter.
According to police, Mitchell beat to death 29-year-old Danielle Keller in the backyard of the Novato, Calif., home she shared with her mother and the baby. Keller’s body was discovered July 12.
The child was recovered unharmed upon Mitchell’s arrested near Sacramento later the same day after a five-hour manhunt. Samantha Mitchell celebrated her first birthday the day her mother was murdered.
According to a statement from the victim’s mother, Keller and Mitchell became estranged after the birth of their daughter. Keller’s mother, Claudia Stevens, told the San Francisco Chronicle “a series of frightening events” resulted in the issuance of a restraining order against Mitchell earlier this year. Keller had sole custody of the child.
July 12 also marked the second anniversary of the death of Rafe Mitchell’s father, who in 1969 co-founded an infamous San Francisco porn empire before shooting to death his brother and longtime business partner in 1991. Jim Mitchell served three years in prison for manslaughter after kicking down the door of Artie Mitchell’s home during what he claimed was an attempt to intervene in Artie Mitchell’s drug and alcohol abuse.
The brothers not only founded the Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Theatre, but also lensed landmark works of adult cinema. Behind the Green Door, starring the late Marilyn Chambers, was an early hit for them.
Rafe Mitchell, 27, faces a preliminary hearing Oct. 5 in Marin County Superior Court.
(Booking photo: Marin County Sheriff’s Office)