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Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

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South Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Patterson Murder Conviction and Life Without Parole Sentence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, November 02, 2017
CONTACT:  Sara Rabern (605) 773-3215   

PIERRE, S.D. - Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the South Dakota Supreme Court has affirmed the second degree murder conviction and sentence of Joseph R. Patterson for the death of his then girlfriend’s son T.R.  

“The South Dakota Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the jury’s guilty verdict in this tragic case,” said Jackley. “Patterson is being held accountable for his unconscionable act of taking the life of a two-year old. I want to thank the jurors, the investigators and the prosecutors for their difficult work.”

“We have always believed in the strength of our case, and the criminal justice system has held this defendant accountable for his horrific criminal actions,” said Lincoln County States Attorney Tom Wollman.

The South Dakota Supreme Court rejected each of Patterson’s claims, finding the trial court properly allowed evidence of past abuse of children. The Court also found the testimony of the State’s nine expert witnesses, who concluded that retinal hemorrhages, subdural hematoma, and brain swelling establish that the child was intentionally injured, was properly admitted.

Patterson was convicted by a Lincoln County jury in September 2015 and was sentenced to life without parole for second degree murder.