Home Newport News man indicted in 2023 murder of cellmate at Red Onion State Prison

Newport News man indicted in 2023 murder of cellmate at Red Onion State Prison

Chris Graham
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A Newport News man in prison on aggravated malicious wounding charges since 2012 has been charged with the 2023 death of his cellmate at Red Onion State Prison.

Julian Leon Mitchell, 36, was charged with one count of aggravated murder by a grand jury in Wise County Circuit Court. The indictment was filed on Wednesday, May 15.

Aggravated murder is a Class 1 felony in Virginia and carries a punishment of life in prison.

Mitchell is accused of killing Jowell Travis Le Gendre, a Louisa County man who shared Mitchell’s cell at Red Onion State Prison, on Aug. 24, 2023.

Le Gendre, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the 2018 sexual assault of a UVA student, was found unresponsive by Virginia Department of Corrections team members, who performed lifesaving efforts, according to a VADOC release, and he was later transported to Dickenson Community Hospital.

According to Le Gendre’s mother, Jeanette Le Gendre, it took 90 minutes for VADOC to transport her son to the hospital, which is 9.7 miles away from the prison.

Le Gendre was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

“The safety and security of our corrections team, inmates, and supervisees is this department’s top priority,” said VADOC Director Chad Dotson. “The Virginia Department of Corrections will pursue prosecution to the fullest extent of the law for anyone who threatens that safety and security. I thank Commonwealth’s Attorney Brett Hall for bringing this case before a grand jury, and for always being a steadfast supporter of our department. I also thank our corrections team members for their work on this investigation.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].