Man pleads not guilty to 1993 fatal stabbing in Spanaway

Family members packed the courtroom Wednesday to get a look at the man charged with fatally stabbing a Spanaway woman while she babysat her young niece and nephew in 1993.

James Edward Mitchell, 60, once lived across the street from Linda Robinson, 36. Investigators do not believe the two were aquaintances when Robinson was killed Feb. 6, 1993.

Her slaying went unsolved until October, when DNA linked Mitchell to the homicide. Blood from Robinson and Mitchell was found on her jeans, a cut telephone cord and a child’s jacket found in Robinson’s bedroom.

U.S. Marshals arrested Mitchell earlier this month in Leesburg, Florida, and Pierce County prosecutors charged Mitchell with first-degree murder.

He was extradited Tuesday and a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf Wednesday. He was ordered jailed in lieu of $2 million bail.

About two dozen of Robinson’s relatives attended the arraignment to see Mitchell. A few grumbled, scoffed and shook their heads when he appeared before judge. Many clutched hands, fought tears and hugged tightly as they remembered Robinson.

“I can’t say enough kind things about her,” James Robinson, the victim’s brother, said before the hearing. “She was wonderful. Charming. Outstanding. A good sister and good role model.”

Although Mitchell lived across the street from the Robinsons years ago, the family said they knew him only in passing. He also attended school with one of Linda Robinson’s younger sisters, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

The day she was killed Robinson was looking after her 7-year-old niece and 6-month-old nephew at her home at 127 162nd St. S.

She put the children to sleep in the living room and went to make soup. Her niece awoke to a smoke detector that went off when the pot of soup began burning on the stove.

The little girl found Robinson dead in the kitchen and ran to a neighbor for help,

Robinson suffered 10 stab wounds to the back and several cuts to her neck and chest. A telephone was close to Robinson but the cord had been cut.

The case grew cold until May 2013, when Robinson’s father and niece called detective Sgt. Tim Kobel to ask about progress on the case. Kobel reviewed the evidence and submitted several pieces of evidence for DNA testing.

The results came back in October linking Mitchell to the death.

No motive has been disclosed.

Mitchell has several prior felony convictions, including sexual assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, motor vehicle theft, larceny and drugs.