“Making *Another* Murderer”: Possible Defenses for Jake Patterson for the Murder of Jayme Closs’s Family

PC: https://fox6now.com/2019/01/11/what-we-know-about-the-suspect-in-the-kidnapping-of-jayme-closs/

By: Jackie Cipolla

The Badger State has had its share of high profile murders in the past two decades. The Netflix documentary, Making a Murderer, sparked a national debate over Steven Avery’s alleged murder of Teresa Halbach in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.[1] Avery’s attorneys put forward the defense of a corrupt sheriff’s department that planted incriminating evidence, but to no avail as a Manitowoc jury ultimately convicted Avery of Halbach’s murder.[2] More recently than the Steven Avery case, however, police from the rural county of Barron, Wisconsin, charged 21 year old Jake Patterson with the abduction of 13 year old Jayme Closs and the murder of her parents.[3]

The criminal complaint provides the gruesome details of Jake Patterson’s methodology in plotting his murder and abduction. Patterson went as far as telling investigators, “That’s the girl I’m going to take,” after he saw Jayme get onto the school bus back in October.[4] Patterson drove to the Closs home two times attempting to kidnap Jayme but got scared from lights that were on in the home and cars that were parked in the driveway.[5] When his opportune moment arrived, Patterson shaved his head so as not to leave any DNA evidence behind and even took Jayme’s clothes from her so as not to leave more physical evidence.[6] Patterson forced Jayme to hide under his bed for hours at time, often without food, water, or bathroom breaks.[7] The criminal complaint paints a picture of premeditation, obsession, and methodology. So what defenses could Patterson possibly have to such a heinous offense? The first defense that comes to mind is insanity and then perhaps a possible argument for improper venue in Barron County.

Under the Wisconsin statute, a defendant has an insanity defense “if at the time of such conduct as a result of mental disease or defect the person lacked substantial capacity either to appreciate the wrongfulness of his or her conduct or conform his or her conduct to the requirements of law.”[8]  However, the statute also provides that “‘mental disease or defect’ do[es] not include an abnormality manifested only by repeated criminal or otherwise antisocial conduct.”[9] Thus, an insanity defense may fail if Patterson’s behavior falls into the “antisocial conduct” category in the statute. The Mayo Clinic defines antisocial personality disorder as “a mental condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others,” and a person who “tend[s] to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference.”[10] Further, those with antisocial personality disorder tend to “show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.”[11] Indeed, in the video of his initial court appearance, Patterson stared blankly at the video camera, and even told law enforcement during his confession that he was “ready for a fight” with police on the night he kidnapped Jayme if it came to that.[12]

Patterson’s abduction of Jayme Closs and his “antisocial conduct” bring back memories of Elizabeth Smart’s abduction in Utah. In the Elizabeth Smart case, Brian David Mitchell’s (her captor) attorneys initially argued that Mitchell was incompetent to stand trial in the court.[13] However, federal prosecutors were able to obtain a forensic psychiatric evaluation, in which Mitchell was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and pedophilia, and eventually was declared competent to stand trial.[14] At trial, Mitchell’s defense attorneys put forward an insanity defense, but jurors ultimately convicted Mitchell and sentenced him to life in prison.[15] Like Mitchell, Patterson probably will be deemed competent to stand trial. Indeed, when officers pulled him over on the day Jayme escaped from his home while he was out looking for her, Patterson told officers, “I know what this is about. I did it.”[16] This would indicate that he meaningfully could aid in his defense and could participate in the proceedings. And like Mitchell, a jury probably would reject any insanity defense Patterson’s attorneys might raise at trial.

Patterson’s defense attorneys also might have an argument about improper venue in Barron County. Patterson murdered Jayme’s parents in their home in Barron County, but he abducted and brought Jayme back to his home in Douglas County.[17] To date, prosecutors have not brought any additional charges against Patterson in Douglas County arising out of any incidents that may have occurred during the three months he held Jayme captive.[18]

A similar venue issue arose with the murder of a Muslim teen in Fairfax County, Virginia. In June 2017, an intoxicated Darwin Martinez Torres smashed seventeen year old Nabra Hassanen’s head with a baseball bat and subsequently raped her in the back seat of his vehicle.[19] Her body was found dumped in a pond in Loudoun County; however there was some discrepancy as to the jurisdiction in which she was murdered.[20] Ultimately, prosecutors concluded that venue was proper in Fairfax County and not in Loudoun, and Martinez Torres eventually pleaded guilty to capital murder and rape to avoid the death penalty.[21] At his guilty plea hearing, Martinez Torres’s attorney indicated his client is “intellectually disabled” with an “IQ of 68 or less” and struggles with impulse control.[22] Despite this, Martinez Torres likely will be sentenced to life imprisonment in March, 2019.[23]

It certainly will be interesting to see what charges, if any, and in what county, prosecutors choose to bring against Patterson as more information comes to light about the nature of Jayme’s tumultuous time in his home. While it could be a stretch, his attorneys may be able to raise some issue with venue about what incidents occurred in which county, but as in the Martinez Torres case, it may prove pointless simply given the facts of his case.

Before they were murdered, Jayme’s parents had worked for the Jennie-O turkey company, which had offered $25,000 in reward money in exchange for information for her return.[24] The company since has promised to give Jayme the reward money.[25] The CEO of Jennie-O’s parent company said in a statement, “Barron is an incredibly strong community and one that never lost hope.”[26] While Barron most certainly is a strong community, Patterson should be cautious that Barron will not be an impartial community to his actions at trail. Indeed, Patterson probably should start thinking about what kind of plea he would be willing to accept.

 

[1] David Williams & Chris Boyette,Making a Murderer’ Police Officer is Suing Netflix and the Filmmakers for Defamation, CNN (Dec. 18, 2018), https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/18/entertainment/making-a-murderer-defamation-lawsuit-trnd/index.html

[2] David Williams & Chris Boyette,Making a Murderer’ Police Officer is Suing Netflix and the Filmmakers for Defamation, CNN (Dec. 18, 2018), https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/18/entertainment/making-a-murderer-defamation-lawsuit-trnd/index.html.

[3] Matt Furber & Mitch Smith, Jayme Closs, Kidnapped by a Stranger, Endured Horror, Police Say, N.Y. Times (Jan. 14, 2019), https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/jayme-closs-updates-jake-patterson.html.

[4] Complaint at 7,  State v. Patterson (Jan. 14, 2019) (No. 2019CF000020) (Available at https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/561-jake-patterson-charges/0d504489dc541e820518/optimized/full.pdf#page=1).

[5] Complaint at 8,State v. Patterson (Jan. 14, 2019) (No. 2019CF000020) (Available at https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/561-jake-patterson-charges/0d504489dc541e820518/optimized/full.pdf#page=1).

[6] Complaint at 6, State v. Patterson (Jan. 14, 2019) (No. 2019CF000020) (Available at https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/561-jake-patterson-charges/0d504489dc541e820518/optimized/full.pdf#page=1).

[7] Matt Furber & Mitch Smith, Jayme Closs, Kidnapped by a Stranger, Endured Horror, Police Say, N.Y. Times (Jan. 14, 2019), https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/jayme-closs-updates-jake-patterson.html.

[8] Wis. Stat. § 971.15(1) (1993).

[9] Wis. Stat. § 971.15(2) (1993).

[10] Antisocial Personality Disorder: Overview, Mayo Clinic (Aug. 4, 2017), https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/antisocial-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353928.

[11] Antisocial Personality Disorder: Overview, Mayo Clinic (Aug. 4, 2017), https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/antisocial-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353928.

[12] Ray Sanchez, The Jayme Closs Case: A Chilling Tale of Murder, Kidnapping and Escape in Rural America, CNN (Jan. 20, 2019), https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/19/us/jayme-closs-case-moment-by-moment/index.html.

[13] Lauren Effron, Dr. Michael Welner Describes Evaluating Elizabeth Smart’s Kidnapper Brian David Mitchell, ABC News (Aug. 19, 2011) https://abcnews.go.com/Health/inside-mind-elizabeth-smarts-kidnapper/story?id=14318730.

[14] Lauren Effron, Dr. Michael Welner Describes Evaluating Elizabeth Smart’s Kidnapper Brian David Mitchell, ABC News (Aug. 19, 2011) https://abcnews.go.com/Health/inside-mind-elizabeth-smarts-kidnapper/story?id=14318730.

[15] Lena Jakobsson & Michael Christian, Smart Says Justice Served After Federal Jury Finds Kidnapper Guilty, CNN (Dec. 11, 2010), http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/12/10/utah.smart.trial.verdict/index.html.

[16] Complaint at 5, State v. Patterson (Jan. 14, 2019) (No. 2019CF000020) (Available at https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/561-jake-patterson-charges/0d504489dc541e820518/optimized/full.pdf#page=1).

[17] Ray Sanchez, The Jayme Closs Case: A Chilling Tale of Murder, Kidnapping and Escape in Rural America, CNN (Jan. 20, 2019), https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/19/us/jayme-closs-case-moment-by-moment/index.html.

[18] Rusty Mehlberg, Douglas County DA Not to Charge Jake Patterson in Jayme Closs Case for Now, WTMJ News (Jan. 25, 2019), http://www.wtmj.com/news/douglas-county-da-not-to-charge-jake-patterson-in-jayme-closs-case-for-now/989762508.

[19]  Justin Jouvenal, Sterling Man Pleads Guilty to Murder in Killing of Muslim Teen, Wash. Post (Nov. 28, 2018), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/plea-hearing-set-for-man-accused-of-killing-muslim-teen-as-she-walked-to-mosque/2018/11/28/1c9f05b4-f29e-11e8-bc79-68604ed88993_story.html?utm_term=.fb51f174c9bd.

[20] Justin Jouvenal & Julie Zaumer, Killing of Muslim Tean Near Va. Mosque Stemmed from Road Rage, Police Say, Wash. Post (June 19, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/killing-of-muslim-teenager-not-being-investigated-as-a-hate-crime-police-say/2017/06/19/e7670f0a-54f0-11e7-ba90-f5875b7d1876_story.html?utm_term=.ff2a6479a4e9.

[21] Justin Jouvenal & Julie Zaumer, Killing of Muslim Tean Near Va. Mosque Stemmed from Road Rage, Police Say, Wash. Post (June 19, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/killing-of-muslim-teenager-not-being-investigated-as-a-hate-crime-police-say/2017/06/19/e7670f0a-54f0-11e7-ba90-f5875b7d1876_story.html?utm_term=.ff2a6479a4e9; Justin Jouvenal, Sterling Man Pleads Guilty to Murder in Killing of Muslim Teen, Wash. Post (Nov. 28, 2018), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/plea-hearing-set-for-man-accused-of-killing-muslim-teen-as-she-walked-to-mosque/2018/11/28/1c9f05b4-f29e-11e8-bc79-68604ed88993_story.html?utm_term=.fb51f174c9bd.

[22] Justin Jouvenal, Sterling Man Pleads Guilty to Murder in Killing of Muslim Teen, Wash. Post (Nov. 28, 2018), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/plea-hearing-set-for-man-accused-of-killing-muslim-teen-as-she-walked-to-mosque/2018/11/28/1c9f05b4-f29e-11e8-bc79-68604ed88993_story.html?utm_term=.fb51f174c9bd.

[23] Justin Jouvenal, Sterling Man Pleads Guilty to Murder in Killing of Muslim Teen, Wash. Post (Nov. 28, 2018), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/plea-hearing-set-for-man-accused-of-killing-muslim-teen-as-she-walked-to-mosque/2018/11/28/1c9f05b4-f29e-11e8-bc79-68604ed88993_story.html?utm_term=.fb51f174c9bd.

[24] Kathleen Joyce, Jayme Closs Will Receive at Least $25G in Reward Money Due to Her ‘Bravery and Strength,’ Fox News (Jan. 24, 2019), https://www.foxnews.com/us/jayme-closs-will-receive-25g-in-reward-money-due-to-her-bravery-and-strength.

[25] Kathleen Joyce, Jayme Closs Will Receive at Least $25G in Reward Money Due to Her ‘Bravery and Strength,’ Fox News (Jan. 24, 2019), https://www.foxnews.com/us/jayme-closs-will-receive-25g-in-reward-money-due-to-her-bravery-and-strength.

[26] Kathleen Joyce, Jayme Closs Will Receive at Least $25G in Reward Money Due to Her ‘Bravery and Strength,’ Fox News (Jan. 24, 2019), https://www.foxnews.com/us/jayme-closs-will-receive-25g-in-reward-money-due-to-her-bravery-and-strength.

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