A Greenland murder suspect pleaded guilty Friday to killing his wife and mother-in-law last year with a shotgun. The guilty plea means the suspect avoids the death penalty.
Mandrake Patterson entered his plea in Washington County Circuit Court after making a deal with prosecutors to serve life in prison without parole. Patterson pleaded guilty to two counts of capital murder and one count of attempted murder, said deputy prosecutor Matt Durrett.
The case against Patterson was recently stalled after a judge ruled the suspect may be mentally unfit to stand trial. Washington County Judge William Storey ordered legal proceedings suspended because “this court finds reasonable suspicion to believe that the defendant may not be fit to proceed,” according to an order filed in Washington County Circuit Court.
Shortly after Storey signed the order, the Arkansas Department of Human Services sent him a letter stating the department needed more time to mentally evaluate the murder suspect.
Patterson’s murder trial had been reset twice, in April and August of 2013. Circuit court trials are often delayed while prosecutors and defense attorneys examine evidence and witnesses for testimony.
Patterson was arrested Jan. 10, 2013, 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.