The attorney for a Greenland murder suspect is calling on county court officials to abolish the possibility of the death penalty for Mandrake Patterson, calling the death penalty racist against African Americans.
Patterson was arrested in January, suspected of gunning down his wife and mother-in-law. Patterson, 27, is charged with two counts of capital murder and one count of attempted capital murder. Patterson pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in the Washington County Detention Center without bond.
The capital murder trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 26. Public defender Gregg Parrish submitted several pretrial motions last month seeking to take the death penalty off the table, since prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Patterson, according to court documents from the Washington County Circuit Clerk’s Office.
Despite the motions’ language, prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty in the murder case against Patterson, according to the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office.
In one pretrial motion, Parrish states the death penalty has been historically racist.
“(T)he death penalty has been arbitrarily and capriciously imposed in an unconstitutionally and racially discriminatory manner,” Parrish states. “(T)here has been a clear pattern showing that the death penalty is more likely to be imposed upon an African-American defendant convicted of killing a white person.”
The motion goes on to state that the 14th Amendment prohibits racial discrimination in capital sentencing.
Other motions call the death penalty itself unconstitutional, on grounds of cruel and unusual punishment, and seek a second trial for sentencing if Patterson is found guilty of capital murder. A jury able to render a death penalty finding may be pre-disposed to think of Patterson as guilty during the trial, one of the motions states.
Patterson was arrested Jan. 10 on suspicion of killing two people and injuring his wife’s aunt at 1037 N. Main St. in Greenland.
Patterson’s mother-in-law, Betty Desalvo, 53, was pronounced dead after the shooting. His wife, Hope Patterson, 34, died later at Washington Regional Medical Center, according to the Greenland Police Department.
A third woman, Denise Fulfer, 55, was in critical but stable condition at Washington Regional Medical Center. Desalvo and Fulfer are sisters.
Patterson made a voluntary statement to Greenland police and confessed to being involved in the shooting, according to a probable cause preliminary report from the Washington County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Police responded to a domestic disturbance call at the Elmwood Apartments on Main Street at 8:46 p.m., authorities said.
“It was a domestic dispute that went bad,” said Police Chief Gary Ricker.
All those involved lived at the address where the shooting occurred, police said.
Police said there was fifth person who also lived in the apartment who witnessed the shooting and is being questioned by police.
Greenland police said a shotgun was used in the shootings.
Police said they have responded to disturbance calls at the home in the past.
Ricker said it’s been a while since something like this has happened in the city of Greenland.
“The last murder we had before this was probably about 10 years ago, and I`ve been police chief for 21 years. And this is only the second time that something like this happened,” Ricker said.