They chose life.
After little more than an hour of deliberation Thursday evening, jurors recommended that Patterson receive three life sentences without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty for the 2009 murders of Jamie Lynn Orman, her 15-year-old son Derrick and her unborn child.
When Judge William Syler read the Pemiscot County jury's decision at almost 7 p.m., Patterson turned to his mother in the gallery and smiled.
Lucille Patterson mouthed the words "I love you," to her son who will likely spend the rest of his life in the custody of the Missouri Department of Corrections. Later, Patterson raised his handcuffed hands and pointed as he left the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse for an awaiting police car.
"I love you, Ryan!" his sister, Lubertha Ellis, yelled from across the courtyard.
"Love you, too, baby," he said back.
Patterson also had some words for a nearby reporter. "Tell them not guilty!" he yelled from the back seat of the car.
But the jury had already decided otherwise, opting earlier in the day for guilty verdicts in three counts of first-degree murder for shooting the pregnant mother and her teenage son in the early morning hours of Oct. 27, 2009. The jury, brought in from Pemiscot County, had apparently agreed with the prosecution's charge that Patterson shot the Ormans in a botched attempt to get as much as $400,000 in insurance money.
The jury's verdict of life in prison is technically only a recommendation, though judges almost always follow it. Judge Syler ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set official sentencing for 10 a.m. Sept. 19.
While Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle had argued for death, following the sentencing verdict, Swingle said he was satisfied.
"It's clear the jury worked hard, and it's clear the jury studied the evidence," Swingle said. "Ryan Patterson will never walk the streets again."
When asked why he thought the jury opted for life in prison over the death penalty, Swingle said he could only speculate. But he thought it might be that Patterson never confessed and no witness saw him shoot anyone.
Outside the courthouse immediately following the verdicts, no one acted like they had won. Jamie Orman's sisters hugged and wept and her father stood in silence.
The jury sat through an afternoon of often emotional testimony from friends and family of both the defendant and those still suffering from the triple murder.
They also heard impassioned pleas from Swingle and one of Patterson's defense lawyers, David Kenyon. Swingle, who went first, told the jury to make the punishment fit the crime -- and that should mean the death penalty.
"This huge man with a cannon of a gun kicked in the door and killed them while they slept," Swingle said. "You need to draw a line in the sand. If you premeditate a murder for money -- for greed -- you're going to get the death penalty."
Swingle also told the jury that it's not their job to forgive Patterson.
"You are not here to disburse forgiveness," he said. "Only the Ormans' friends and family can do that. You are here to disburse justice."
But Kenyon urged the jury to temper their anger for what Patterson did with mercy. He told the jury that the appropriate punishment in the case is life in prison without parole.
"In doing so, I'm not asking you for leniency, I'm asking you to do what's appropriate in this instance," Kenyon said. "I'm also asking in the hope that with a little bit of understanding, comes a little bit of mercy."
The defense brought in Patterson's family members, who told of an upbringing of violence and abuse by an alcoholic father. Patterson's father, Johnnie Johnson, sat in the courtroom gallery, seemingly emotionless. A social worker testified that Patterson lived in deplorable conditions for the first years of his life where there was little money or food.
Patterson was removed from his home, witnesses said, when he was 7. He bounced from foster home to foster home until he was 16. A psychiatrist brought in from New York, who admitted he was paid about $20,000 for his time, testified that Patterson suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, psychotic disorder, marijuana abuse and borderline personality disorder.
The psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Dudley, also said that Patterson was born a twin but that brother died at a young age. Family members told Dudley, as did Patterson, that Patterson often had hallucinations in which he saw and heard the twin speaking to him.
Family members of the Ormans also spoke on behalf of the prosecution.
"He murdered us," Jamie Orman's sister, Kelly Hoffman testified. "It's a big hole that can never be filled again."
Derrick Orman's father, Bruce Orman, said it's been hard for him and his two surviving sons, who testified earlier in the week that they watched their brother die. He said the boys have had nightmares and that it hasn't been easy for him, either.
"It's hard to have three bedrooms upstairs and only two sons," he said.
Jurors wiped away tears during the prosecution's half of the penalty phase. Patterson's mother broke down and wept as Swingle made his closing statement, and his sister had to be escorted from the courtroom by bailiffs, muttering expletives as she left.
Patterson opted not to testify in his own behalf. He only spoke out loud once during the proceedings. When the psychiatrist was answering questions as to Patterson's mental state during the murders, Patterson spoke up: "What if I didn't do it?" he said.
"Now is not the time for you to speak, Mr. Patterson," Judge Syler told him.
Following the guilty verdict earlier in the day, Patterson's friends and family members were angry and already looking forward to an appeal. Patterson's father, Johnnie Johnson, and sister, Lubertha Ellis, said the state failed to make its case.
"The evidence does not point to my son," Johnson said. "I'm disgusted at the justice system."
Both agreed with the defense lawyers, who suggested that Samuel "Ray Ray" Hughes was the killer. In exchange for a lesser sentence, Hughes testified this week that he was the lookout and saw Patterson standing over Derrick's body with a gun.
Swingle said in his closing statement that Patterson killed the Ormans as part of a botched plan to kill John Lawrence for up to $400,000 in insurance money. The prosecution claimed Patterson shot Derrick Orman thinking he was John Lawrence, then shot Jamie Orman before fleeing. Patterson's then-girlfriend, Michelle Lawrence, testified that she told Patterson about the insurance money and how they could live the "high life" with that money.
Both Hughes and Michelle Lawrence are to be sentenced at a later date. Swingle is recommending 15 years for a conspiracy charge against Lawrence and 20 years for second-degree murder against Hughes.
Patterson's family questioned how lawyers could disregard a bloody sock seized from Hughes that DNA testing showed to belong to a woman. They also were outraged that investigators never submitted the victims' blood for comparison.
"My brother did not have that in his heart, to kill someone," Ellis said. "He never did."
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