Patterson: I’ll just do what I want to get what I want
The complaint filed against 21-year-old Thomas Patterson on Monday, January 14 — for the kidnapping of 13-year-old Jayme Closs and the murder of her parents — detailed the conditions under which she was taken and her parents were killed. Patterson was charged with those crimes and more. Bail, not surprisingly, was set at the astronomical amount of $5 million cash.
Prosecutors say more charges could come later, but the current murder charges are already punishable by life in prison, and the kidnapping charge carries an additional sentence of a possible 40 years more.
Wisconsin doesn’t have the death penalty. His defense attorneys, Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, have said they might seek a change of venue. “It’s been an emotional time for this community…. We don’t take that lightly. But we have a job to do in protecting our client,” Jones said.
Most people are probably outraged that lawyers for the defense of such a person will try so hard to get their client off, but as one lawyer once told me, “Lawyers are not the judge and the jury and it is their job to defend those who come to them for their defense, if they choose to do so. Everyone is entitled to a defense in this country, and the better the defense, the less likelihood that any appeal based on inadequate counsel will be granted. And if it is so obvious that the person is guilty, no doubt the defense team, while still doing their best for their client, will not feel unjustly defeated or that they were tricked into getting back a ‘guilty’ verdict.”
People may not especially like lawyers — for whatever reason — but when they need one, they really need a good one. And the better the lawyer, the more likely all the facts relevant to the case will be brought out.
Remember, when discussing lawyers — and having stated the above — there are situations for which we must have a lawyer (at least in today’s world) if we can have any hope of getting justice or just getting out of the mess we find ourselves in. Yes, usually the better the lawyer, the more expensive, BUT NOT ALWAYS. And should you ever find yourself falsely accused of some crime, especially murder, you will want the best you can afford. You will, of course, try to get your lawyer to believe you are innocent, and by giving your lawyer every piece of information or evidence that can back up your innocence, it will be your attorney’s job to be sure that all of that gets to be presented in court and to the jurors to weigh heavily in your favor. And the more your lawyer believes in you, the more likely he or she will fight for you.
Yet even the blatantly guilty deserve a trial and a defense (well, are accorded one) unless they plead guilty and save the courts time and money and know in their heart and soul what the likely outcome of the trial will be. But then, we know that even the blatantly guilty might use one or more of the old “difficult childhood,” “mentally ill,” “inability to control his behavior” or some other “softening’ excuses that sometimes are very real and sadly do reflect on one’s totally
out-of-control behavior. And when and if, unfortunately, you or a loved one find yourself in such a position, you will want your lawyer to see how all that contributed to what you did, and help you to end up getting the help you always needed but never got.
Patterson joined the Marines after he graduated from high school, but only lasted a month before he was discharged for failing to meet expectations and standards, according to a Marine spokeswoman. Things of note: he graduated from high school, which meant he was able to get through all those requirements; and he obviously passed both the mental and physical tests to get into the Marines. YET, when it came to proving he could live up to being a Marine, he couldn’t cut it.
Patterson was working at a cheese factory when he stopped behind a school bus on his way to work and saw Jayme getting on. He decided then and there that she “was the girl he was going to take.” In other words, he decided to do what it would take to get what he wanted — with no thought of the wrongness or immorality of the act, or even of any barriers that might be in his way, such as Jayme’s parents, both of whom he had to kill to get what he wanted.
Dressed in black and wearing a face mask and gloves, he armed himself with a shotgun. He attached stolen plates to his car so police would not be able to track him. He disabled the dome light of the car to ensure no light in the dark, removed a cord that allowed the trunk to be opened from the inside, and silently coasted down the Closs driveway in readiness for his attack. He knew what he was doing and prepared well.
Patterson told investigators he shot Jayme’s father through the front door when he was about to open it — Jayme said she had awakened her father at the sound of their dog’s barking — then blew the door’s lock off with a second blast. He discovered Jayme and her mother hiding in the bathroom. He taped Jayme’s mouth shut with tape he had brought (showing he was prepared for that, too), and then taped her hands behind her back and taped her ankles together. He then shot her mother in the head. All that and more was in the complaint that was filed.
Patterson also told police he dragged Jayme outside, pulled her across the yard and threw her into his trunk and took her to his cabin in a woodsy part of Douglas County. He told her to remove her clothes — giving her his sister’s pajamas to wear — so he could burn the evidence.
There is no doubt that he did those things. Why he did them remains to be seen. What he did to her while she was his prisoner remains to be made known.
Of course Jayme tried to escape. Who wouldn’t? But he made it hard for her, as likely all kidnappers would. Finally, after 88 days, she made it out of there. When Patterson found her gone, she was already safe with a neighbor and the police were hot on his trail.
Many are probably saying he should be killed on the spot. Those feelings are totally understandable, but remember, this is the country that says “innocent until PROVEN guilty”; and while he has confessed, he is still entitled to a trial if he wants one and his lawyers are still obligated (by the concept that we believe lawyers are supposed to adhere to) to give him the best possible defense they can.
Remember, the better the defense, the less likely the defendant can make a case for an appeal based on not getting a fair trial. May justice be served.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.