Most Orman family members unhappy with jury's life sentence recommendation

Friday, August 5, 2011
Shanelle Mattingly hugs Terry Bettis, left, as they stand Thursday with other members of Jamie Lynn Orman's family outside the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson after hearing the jury's verdict suggesting that Ryan Patterson receive three life sentences in prison for the 2009 murder of Jamie Lynn Orman, her 15-year old son Derrick and her unborn child. (Kristin Eberts)

When Jamie Orman was buried, her sister stood over her grave and made a promise. She would make sure Jamie's killer was brought to justice and put to death for his crimes.

With Thursday's jury recommendation for Ryan Patterson of life in prison, Kelly Hoffman said that promise will never come true.

"I promised Jamie I would watch him take his last breath," a teary-eyed Hoffman said. "Now I'm not going to be able to do that. He was shown mercy. My sister and Derrick were not shown mercy. It's unfair."

Other family members and friends of the victims -- including the baby Jamie was pregnant with at the time of her death -- were appalled at the jury's decision to spare the life of the man they earlier in the day had convicted of taking the lives of their loved ones. They said that Patterson will continue to get up every day while their family will be fragmented forever.

"We got some justice for the guilty verdict," said Jamie's other sister, Stephanie Howard. "But I wanted the death penalty because my sister and nephew are not here anymore. Why should he be here anymore?"

Derrick's father, Bruce Orman, also was noticeably disappointed that Patterson did not get the death penalty. Orman said Patterson had killed three people and that the only justice in that situation is for his life to be taken.

"He took the breath and heartbeat of three individuals," Orman said. "He's going to get to keep on enjoying life, even if it is in prison. He's alive. They're not. It's not justice."

The man prosecutors say Patterson intended to kill, John Lawrence, said he also thought the only justice would be the death penalty. Lawrence was Orman's boyfriend and the father of her unborn child. Prosecutors said Patterson and John Lawrence's then-wife Michelle had talked about how much insurance money they would get with John out of the picture.

"It was an injustice," he said. "That's exactly how I feel."

But Jamie Orman's parents said they weren't entirely sure they wanted Patterson executed.

Her father, Jim Howard of San Antonio, said he was conflicted and has gone back and forth since his daughter and grandson were murdered.

"I've been trying to deal with this for two years," Howard said. "I'm just going to go back home and keep trying to deal with it. I don't know what else to do."

There's been enough killing, said Jamie's mother, Terry Bettis.

"Nobody understands, but as a mother, there's been enough death," she said. "I don't want another mother to have to go through what I've been through."

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