Patterson Takes Stand In Own Murder Trial
Utica, NY (WIBX) - Today was day five of the Christian M. Patterson Aggravated Murder trial in Oneida County Court. Prosecutors rested their case against the defendant today, after hearing from several other members of the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Team.
ERT Leader, Lt. Robert Townsend, testified about his conversation with Deputy Kurt B. Wyman before he was shot and killed during the stand-off last June on Knoxboro Road in the Town of Augusta. He talked about his role during the stand-off and the orders he gave his men. When asked about instructions given to Wyman he told the court that he told Wyman before 1:00 a.m. on June 7, 2011, “If we were physically struggling with the defendant, he can come in with his Tazer, but only if he’s called upon.” He said he “specifically” told Wyman about his assignment that night. He said he explained to Wyman that he was the only one so close to the scene without a long gun, and unless he was “directly” called up on, he was not to follow ERT or come into the garage where Patterson was hold up.
Townsend also talked about telling Wyman to put away his Tazer when he took it out at one point and used the laser light of his Tazer to shine on Patterson. He said when all hell broke loose, he saw Wyman run toward the opening of the garage. Townsend told the court that as he was yelling, “No! No! No!” for Wyman to stop, he saw Patterson aim his shot gun at Wyman and fire. Townsend said he and others yelled for Wyman to stop as soon as he started moving to the garage and getting in front of ERT members Paul and Famalaro.
Townsend told the court that ERT’s plan, was to use non-lethal force when the opportunity presented itself–as soon as Patterson takes his right hand off the trigger. He said that happened when Patterson was attempting to put on a jacket he pulled down from a shelf behind him. He said he then ordered ERT members Paul and Famalaro–the two members assigned to release the non-lethal weapons–to “Hit!” He says he also heard Nelson say, “Do it now! Do it now!” Townsend said he’s not sure if ERT’s plan to use non-lethal force to stop Patterson from harming himself or others, which was devised at their staging area across the street when they arrived on the scene, was communicated with every officer there.
Another witness called to the stand was, Investigator Robert Nelson, the main negotiator at the scene that night. He told the court that when he saw Patterson take his hand off the trigger for the first time that night, he yelled out “If you’re gonna take him, take him now, now is the time!” Nelson also told the court about trying to engage Patterson in conversations, but to no avail. He said Patterson, throughout the stand-off, gave only short answers to questions or commands. He talked about Patterson saying that there was “no hope” and that “his girlfriend didn’t love him anymore.” Patterson also supposedly told Nelson “that he’s had problems all through his life and that he had nothing left to live for.” He said he even tried to use his pets, a cat and a dog, to try and engage Patterson in dialogue with police. He also told the jury how he witnessed Patterson attempt to put the barrel of the gun under his chin several times. He testified that he thought Patterson was attempting to “commit suicide by cop.”
During cross examination, defense attorney Frank Nebush tried again to show that officers, despite being members of an accreditation agency, did not follow proper procedure. He pointed to several specific rules that address issues ranging from employees having to know and abide by accreditation policies; regulations concerning search and rescue, hostage, barricade or stand-off situations, some involving an emotionally disturbed suspect; the proper use of different levels of force; training, and when to file an incident report. Most of the officers involved in the incident did not file a report or give a deposition within 24-hours, as required for an accredited agency. Some waited weeks to file an official report. The prosecution tried to show that the reason behind the delay in filing a report was due to Wyman’s funeral plans and officers needing time to grieve.
Also, Nebush tried to show that officers did not utilize all the tools available to them. He asked about the use of a generator for light, a bull horn, a shield or the MCAT, Mobile Crisis Assessment Team. Nebush showed, using the OCSO policy guide, that it is the office’s own policy to bring in this team to help handle a violent subject who is showing signs of emotional and, or mental distress. Nebush also tried to prove that the training required for ERT and other special forces, were not to the standard set forth for an accredited agency.
The defense’s first witness called to the stand was Patterson. He told the court about his troubled relationship with his son, Christian Patterson, Jr. He said, “Chris Jr.” was a problem child who always gave both he and his mother, Shannon Secor, a tough time. Patterson said he would constantly “mouth-off” to Secor, and fight with his teachers and other students at school. At one point he said that he blamed the bad behavior on the medication his son was on. He named Ritalin and Risperdal as two of the medications “Chris Jr.” was prescribed.
Also, he said Child Protective Services investigated allegations that he “beat and chased” his son, after “Chris Jr.” told school officials that he was being abused at home. Patterson also talked about his early life growing up in Cornhill, his unsuccessful attempt to get a Criminal Justice degree, his job at Utica College and all the home improvement work he’s done. He also shared a story about stopping a burglary at his next door neighbor’s house, when the family lived on Cherry Street in Utica. He said he told the two men he saw coming out of the house with items to “Freeze” and they dropped the stolen items and ran off. He said he used a BB gun to scare the men. Patterson also talked about the degenerate eye disease he was born with that requires him to wear glasses.
His testimony will continue tomorrow morning in Oneida County Court.