Man seeks to have Cape Girardeau murder conviction overturned

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
In this file photo, Ryan Patterson, right, talks with his attorney, David Kenyon, prior to opening statements Monday, Aug. 1, 2011 in the murder trial against Patterson at the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson. (Fred Lynch)

Ryan Patterson, who is serving three life sentences for the 2009 deaths of a pregnant Cape Girardeau woman and her 15-year-old son, will have another day in court next month as he tries to convince a Cape Girardeau County circuit judge to overturn his conviction.

On Monday, Judge William Syler set the matter for an Oct. 28 bench trial.

Patterson filed a handwritten motion Jan. 10 in Cape Girardeau County Circuit Court, seeking to have the judgment against him vacated, set aside or corrected.

In his motion, Patterson claimed the case "has many of the hallmarks of wrongful convictions," including a lack of physical evidence, self-interested witnesses, allegations of misconduct by investigators, ineffective defense counsel and "an appeals process stacked against the defendant."

In August 2011, a jury from Pemiscot County convicted Patterson of killing Jamie Orman, her unborn child and her 15-year-old son, Derrick, as part of a failed scheme to murder Orman's boyfriend, John Lawrence, and burn his Missouri Avenue home to collect insurance money.

Last October, the Eastern District Court of Appeals affirmed Patterson's conviction, online court records show.

"I believe that I have the wrong color of skin because if I was white my life would have been protected and better defended," Patterson wrote in an affidavit he filed along with the motion in January.

At the time of the Ormans' deaths, Patterson was living with Lawrence's estranged wife, Michelle Lawrence, who in 2011 pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and testified against Patterson in exchange for a 15-year sentence.

A third suspect, Samuel "Ray Ray" Hughes, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

In 2010, Hughes testified that he served as a lookout during the murders but believed he was helping Patterson with a burglary, not a homicide.

In the motion he filed in January, Patterson claimed Hughes and Michelle Lawrence lied about him in exchange for lighter sentences.

Patterson also wrote that prosecutors failed to disclose exculpatory evidence and withheld information that could have been used to impeach witnesses' credibility.

Morley Swingle, who was Cape Girardeau County prosecuting attorney at the time of Patterson's conviction, declined to comment Monday on Patterson's claims.

"I'm not going to testify in the newspaper," Swingle said.

Patterson requested an evidentiary hearing, claiming inadequate representation by his public defenders at both the trial and appellate levels.

One of Patterson's complaints was a claim that defenders "failed miserably to acquire expert to conduct DNA testing" of blood found on Hughes' socks, boots and other items.

He also argued that his right to a jury "free of discriminatory 'taint'" was violated when prosecutors excluded a black woman from the jury because of questions about her eligibility stemming from a 30-year-old fraud conviction but accepted a white juror who had been convicted of passing bad checks just six months earlier.

In an affidavit, Patterson wrote that his attorneys kept him "in the dark" about the defense they were preparing; failed to contact witnesses he wanted them to call, including one he said would have placed him somewhere else at the time of the murders; failed to request a mistrial after a juror fell asleep during court; failed to argue that a footprint found at the scene did not belong to him; and failed to eliminate a juror who "said she knew some things about the case already."

"I truly believe I was set up," Patterson wrote. "I'm hurt because they took everything from me: my job and most importantly my kids. ... I only wanted to be a good father, and they took my life away from me."

A representative of the Cape Girardeau County public defender's office declined to comment on the case Monday.


Pertinent address:

1224 Missouri Ave., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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