A Chipley man was found guilty Oct. 10 of tampering with a witness and could be facing life in prison.
Thirty-six-year-old Mitchell Brigham was charged with intimidating the witness in an attempt to get the victim to drop charges in two cases against him.
A Washington County jury took 19 minutes to find Brigham guilty of tampering with a victim and violation of conditions of pretrial release. Circuit Judge Christopher Patterson set sentencing for Nov. 7.
The defendant was in jail on various charges, including arrests in February and March for aggravated battery on a pregnant person
involving the same victim when the latest offense occurred.
Washington County Chief Prosecutor Megan Ford presented three witnesses, including the victim. Evidence in the case included recorded phone calls from the jailed defendant to the victim.
State AttorneyÂ’s Office Investigator John Pettis was one of those witnesses. Pettis testified to finding the defendant had called the victim some 50 times from jail between his March 29 arrest and April 5. On the calls that connected, Brigham and the victim spoke a total of about six hours. Brigham went on to tell the victim to drop the charges, explaining in detail how to drop the charges and how to provide him with proof that she had done so.
The victim did attempt to drop the charges but testified at trial it was only because of the defendantÂ’s intimidation during the phone calls.
Aggravated battery on a pregnant person is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Under Florida law, tampering with the victim or witness in a second-degree felony is a first-degree felony offense with a penalty of up to 30 years in prison. The tampering law was designed to protect victims and witnesses from intimidation.
Ford is seeking to have the defendant sentenced under FloridaÂ’s Habitual Felony Offender law. If successful, the defendant could face up to life in prison. Brigham has a lengthy criminal history that includes four prison sentences dating back to 2004 and a previous conviction for tampering with a witness/victim.
Brigham still faces trial on the February and March charges of aggravated battery on a pregnant person.