BY JANE PRENDERGAST
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NEWPORT -- The parolee accused in Saturday's fatal beating of a Bellevue woman had pleaded guilty this month to two misdemeanors, which could have led to the revocation of his parole.
Daniel Chenot, upper right on the TV screen, is arraigned via video from Campbell County Jail.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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But his parole officer didn't know about the charges. The officer would have made a monthly check around the first of October to see whether Danny Chenot was following the rules, said Michael Bradley, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.
Mr. Chenot's record was last checked Sept. 1 -- four days before he was arrested for taking a car and driving it while drunk.
On parole since May for burglary convictions in 1993, the 25-year-old -- who has an extensive criminal record -- pleaded guilty to those charges Sept. 11.
Any felony conviction means automatic parole revocation, Mr. Bradley said. But the two charges to which Mr. Chenot pleaded guilty were misdemeanors.
Those lesser offenses cause parole officers to take notice and decide what, if any, action should be taken, Mr. Bradley said. That action can be anything from requiring more check-ins with authorities to revoking parole, he said.
Until he was accused of murder, Mr. Chenot had been a model parolee, Mr. Bradley said. He checked in monthly and had not committed any other violations, he said. That lack of previous violations likely would have weighed in Mr. Chenot's favor when his officer decided what should be done, Mr. Bradley said.
Mr. Chenot pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and burglary in the death of Catherine Mitts, a 50-year-old mother of three. Police say he took an aluminum baseball bat from her garage, beat her while she slept, then called 911 from her kitchen. He was also charged with rape in another incident after police said he stated during their questioning about Mrs. Mitts that he had attacked another Bellevue woman a week earlier.
Campbell Circuit Judge Mickey Foellger ordered him held without bond. The judge was apparently the first to tell Mr. Chenot that his assault charge had been changed, upon Mrs. Mitts' death, to murder. The defendant's face went white, deputies said, and he began to tremble.
Mr. Chenot's criminal record dates to an alcohol intoxication charge in 1991. Court records show a history of burglary, with two 1992 convictions before the 1993 ones that sent him to prison the following year.
His girlfriend, Tillie Guffey, 23, showed up in court Monday to try to talk to him. She said he was living with her and her young daughter in Newport because he had been shunned by his family.
She was somewhat afraid of him, she said, but not so much that she felt nervous having knives in the house, for example, or letting him be around her child. At the same time, though, she said she wasn't surprised he would be charged with such a violent crime.
"I got freaked out," she said. "I mean, he was staying with me and he went and killed somebody."
Mr. Chenot, who also has used the name Brian Patrick, has blamed his life of crime on his upbringing. In a 1994 letter to Kenton Circuit Judge Douglas Stephens, he said his mother had been married four times -- always to men who had trouble with the law -- and that his childhood was full of "alcohol, drugs, arguments, insanity and all the other disadvantages that life has to offer."
Slaying suspect wrote of his abuse
The suspect in the killing of a Bellevue woman once described himself as an abused child who committed evil and was "defiled by the devil." CP:Danny Chenot |
Danny Chenot was trying to get out of prison on previous burglary charges when he wrote to a judge four years ago.
His pleas to Judge Douglas Stephens of Kenton Circuit Court didn't work. The judge denied him shock probation. He stayed behind bars until May.
Among the letter's other explanations for his criminal behavior: Living with his grandmother between the ages of 9 and 12, he was confused by all the attention and love she gave him. "I was not familiar with sitting down at a dinner table and eating with a family or even receiving a decent meal, of being tucked in bed and receiving a good-night kiss," he wrote.
He got hooked on drugs at 13, was in drug rehab at 15, then overdosed at 16. He went to a psychotherapist and took Zanax for his nerves. He broke up with a woman he'd been seeing for four years and tried to kill himself several times because he was distraught over losing the relationship. "My mind went blank and I just wasn't human anymore," he wrote.
He hoped the letter would convince Judge Stephens to let him out of prison early on the 1993 convictions for break-ins at several Taylor Mill houses. It didn't work. He remained in the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville until May 8.
He was released on parole then and said he would live with his grandmother, Betty Wherry, who lives on Foote Avenue in Bellevue. Washington Avenue, where Mrs. Mitts lived, runs parallel to Foote Avenue, one block west.
Bellevue Police Chief Rick Sears said his investigators will share information with other police departments in case Mr. Chenot fits with any other unsolved crimes.
Mr. Chenot is scheduled to return to court Oct. 8.
District Judge Mickey Foellger via video from the Campbell County Jail. He is accused of beating a Bellevue woman to death.