Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Costa Rica: Reasonable Doubt Results in Acquittal of US Wife of American Expat

According to The Tico Times, a murder trial that began in the Southern Zone canton of Pérez Zeledón on January 14, has resulted in the defendant, Anne Marie Patton, 42, being acquitted of the murder of her husband on January 28.

Ms. Patton had been charged with murdering her husband, John Felix Bender, who was found shot to death at the couple's luxury home, south of San José, on January 8, 2010.

Prosecutors had alleged that Ms. Patton had murdered her husband in order to steal millions of dollars worth precious jewelry.

COMMENT: Patton contended throughout the trial that her husband committed suicide because he had bipolar disorder and suffered constant episodes of depression. She said he had been treated numerous times in the US for these disorders.

Nevertheless, crime scene investigators testified that they found NO traces of gunshot residue on either Bender nor on Patton.

Prosecutor Fernando Oses stressed during his closing arguments that “with the position in which the body was found, and the path and the trajectory of the bullet, it was impossible for the victim to have shot himself.”

Based upon the limited facts available, and not knowing what form of forensic analysis was used to determine the presence of gunshot residue on either the decedent or the defendant, it appears that justice may not have been served in this case. 

Ms. Patton could have received a 25 year prison sentence if convicted.