The jury got him off.
A Florida man acquitted of second-degree murder this week still faces lingering suspicions of guilt in the woman’s death — a death that his legal team alleged occurred during oral sex.
Richard Henry Patterson, 65, faced life in prison if convicted of the murder of Francisca Marquinez, 60.
Jurors deliberated for almost five hours before finding Patterson not guilty on Monday.
“I think this was a courageous jury that did the right thing. They recognized the state’s case was full of holes and they had no evidence,” Patterson’s attorney, Ken Padowitz told the Daily News.
“They came back with the only verdict they could, which was not guilty, “Padowitz said.
Patterson initially claimed he had choked his girlfriend to death while she performed oral sex on him. Padowitz had filed a motion with the court seeking the judge’s permission to allow Patterson to show his penis to jury members. The court never ruled on the motion, and Patterson’s legal team decided not to pursue the unorthodox legal approach as the trial concluded.
“Every good lawyer creates options, so that during a trial we can go in different directions with the evidence to make sure the jury is fully informed as to what the truth is,” Padowitz said.
The proposed full-frontal display was unnecessary in the end, after the prosecution presented what Padowitz called “a lousy case with little evidence.”
There was no reason for Patterson to take the stand or to be “humiliated in court” by exposing himself, Padowitz said.
Padowitz’s initial line of defense hinged on his client’s belief that his girlfriend had choked on his genitals.
But in court Monday, a medical examiner testified that it would be unlikely for Marquinez to have died after choking during oral sex.
The victim’s air supply would need to have been cut off for at least 30 seconds before she passed out, and at least another two to three minutes before she died, the Orlando Sun Sentinel reported.
“My client is a handyman. He always believed that the last act he did with his girlfriend must have been why she died. He is not a doctor. He is incorrect,” Padowitz said.
Padowitz moved away from his “rough sex” defense, and pivoted toward the possibility that Marquinez had died of a heart attack or stroke.
“She died, according to a medical pathologist, from potentially a heart attack or stroke, but it was possible, according to the doctor, that you could, in rare instances, die performing oral sex under certain conditions,” Padowitz said.
Marquinez’s family was outraged by the verdict Monday.
“This is not justice,” one family member called out, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Marquinez’s son, Omar Andrade, had previously called Patterson a “desperate man.”
“It’s totally false. He’s a desperate man trying to avoid being convicted for the crime,” he previously told the Daily News. “He’s trying to do anything not to go to jail.”
Medical experts were never able to determine how exactly Marquinez died. Her body had decomposed enough that an autopsy would not have revealed any bruises to her neck, face or arms.
However her neck bone was not broken and the cartilage around her neck was still intact, medical experts testified.
Her official cause of death is undetermined.
While Padowitz and his client celebrate their victory, suspicions of Patterson’s guilt linger.
Prosecutors pointed out that Patterson’s first phone calls after the death were to a lawyer and not to police.
Even Padowitz said that “at first blush, it does look suspicious that someone doesn’t report a death for 24 hours.”
He argued that his client was so distraught after Marquinez’s death, that he tried to kill himself, to explain why he didn’t call police right away.
“A bottle of empty sleeping pills was next to the bed where his girlfriend had died. My client slept next to his deceased girlfriend for 24 hours,” Padowitz said.
When Padowitz met Patterson, his client insisted the attorney call the police, Padowitz said. “He demanded that I call the police on himself,” Padowitz said. “My client demanded that I turn over his keys and a cellphone to police on himself.”
Padowitz praised the jury that delivered the verdict. “I think they are brave because whenever you have a case involving someone who has died, there is a lot of pressure on jurors to come back with a guilty verdict.”