Patton charged in ’06 double killing
By JACOB OGLES
Originally posted on September 30, 2007
A man accused of killing two women in a North Fort Myers home last September has been fighting extradition in Kansas for more than a year.
David Richard Patton has fought against returning to Florida since he was arrested in Topeka on Sept. 23, 2006. On Friday, he bought himself at least another two weeks.
Now his case may need to go before the Kansas Supreme Court before prosecutors in Lee County can start building a case.
Kansas prosecutors say Patton has stalled longer than most defendants.
“This is extraordinarily unusual,” said Robert Hecht, district attorney for the Third Judicial District of Kansas.
Although Kansas prosecutors want to return Patton so he can face trial, attorneys for Patton are prepared to keep him away from Florida for as long as possible to avoid the death penalty.
“All I know is his lawyer has found himself a lifetime job,” said Alan Lind, the husband of Judith Lind, one of the two women Patton is accused of killing.
Patton is accused of bludgeoning to death Lind and her sister, Patricia Perlman, on Sept. 10, 2006, in Perlman’s home before stealing a 2001 Lumina and less than $300 worth of goods, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies say Patton took Perlman’s car to Fort Lauderdale after the slayings before hopping on a bus to leave the state.
Authorities learned of the women’s deaths after neighbors reported a fire at Perlman’s Ellis Street home. Once firefighters arrived, they found the women and immediately began investigating the fire and the deaths as suspicious.
It was more than a week before investigators named Patton as a suspect. But shortly after publicizing his identity, deputies tracked down Patton in Topeka, the city where his mother and brother live.
Sheriff Mike Scott said Patton confessed to the killings to Lee County detectives who flew to Kansas.
But since then, he has fought return to Florida. Local prosecutors can’t speed up the process, according to state attorney’s office spokeswoman Samantha Syoen.
“We can’t comment on what another state attorney’s office is doing with the case,” Syoen said. “If you want to know, you have to ask them.”
Ronald Evans, a death penalty attorney with the Shawnee County, Kan., public defender’s office, has filed repeated motions about Patton’s competency to stand trial.
Patton’s wife said the couple had legally separated and were in the midst of a divorce before Patton went to Florida, and he had sunk into depression. He is on medication at the Shawnee County Jail, Joyce Patton said.
Evans would not comment for this story but in February said his client did not want to face capital punishment.
“He will not voluntarily return to face a death penalty,” Evans said then.
Hecht said it isn’t in Kansas’ purview to determine if Patton should die for his accused crimes.
“That is not anything our courts have any business deciding,” he said.
In April, a state court in Kansas agreed, and ruled once a governor’s warrant from Florida arrived, Kansas no longer had jurisdiction.
Evans appealed that decision, but on Aug. 15, the state court of appeals declined to overturn it.
Now the matter is on petition to the Kansas Supreme Court. Hecht has twice filed a motion to lift the stay on Patton’s extradition and surrender him to Florida authorities.
But last week, a judge there said Patton had at least until Oct. 5 to wait for a supreme court decision.
Lee County authorities aren’t fueling up the jets yet. Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Schall said the agency expects a wait before the state supreme court finishes its work, and suspects there may be further appeals.
Hecht said petitions to the Kansas Supreme Court can take as long as nine months to return.
Meanwhile, the family of the victims’ has suffered with a year’s worth of delayed justice. Family friend Trisha Locke said it has been frustrating but the legal delays are being tolerated.
“They would rather make sure things are done correctly from the beginning,” Locke said. “We were all told to expect this.”
Alan Lind said thoughts of his wife weigh on him every day. Widowed at 69, he misses his spouse as he fights medical problems of his own. He hurts when his daughters break down into tears. He notes his wife was killed on Grandparents Day, and tells how his grandchildren underwent six months of counseling after the deaths.
The experiences have worn down his sympathies for the man in Kansas. When asked if he believes the death penalty is appropriate, Alan Lind doesn’t hesitate with an affirmative answer.
“If they can kill him twice, let them kill him twice.”