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State v. Patterson

Supreme Court of South Dakota

November 1, 2017

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
JOSEPH R. PATTERSON, Defendant and Appellant.

          ARGUED OCTOBER 2, 2017

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT LINCOLN COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE BRADLEY G. ZELL Judge

          MARTY J. JACKLEY Attorney General ROBERT MAYER Deputy Attorney General PAUL S. SWEDLUND GRANT M. FLYNN Assistant Attorneys General Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

          ELLERY GREY of Grey & Eisenbraun Law Rapid City, South Dakota and MICHAEL J. BUTLER Sioux Falls, South Dakota Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

          SEVERSON, JUSTICE

         [¶1.] Joseph Patterson appeals from a final judgment of conviction for second-degree murder. Patterson claims the circuit court erred in: (1) allowing the State to present other acts evidence to the jury; (2) permitting the State to argue a factual theory of guilt and motive not supported by the record; (3) allowing the State to present expert testimony which was impermissibly intrusive; (4) refusing to allow Patterson to present additional instances of alleged child abuse committed by a possible third-party perpetrator; and (5) failing to grant Patterson's motion for acquittal. Patterson also argues the South Dakota Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to consider certain issues presented on notice of review by the State.

         Background

         [¶2.] On October 9, 2013, Ashley Doohen (Doohen) picked up her two-year- old son, T.R., from daycare and brought him back to her apartment. Doohen and T.R. shared the apartment with Doohen's boyfriend, Joseph Patterson (Patterson). Doohen planned to leave T.R. in Patterson's care while she went to a nearby gym. When Doohen left, T.R. was watching TV, eating fruit snacks, and appeared to be in a good mood. At the time, T.R. was in the process of being potty-trained, and had received the fruit snacks as a reward for successfully using the bathroom.

         [¶3.] Shortly after Doohen arrived at the gym, she noticed two missed calls from Patterson. When Doohen called Patterson back, Patterson informed Doohen that T.R. was not breathing and nonresponsive. Doohen told Patterson to hang up and call 911. Patterson attempted to call 911, but misdialed. He connected on the second attempt and informed the dispatcher that T.R. was choking on a fruit snack. Patterson told the dispatcher he had gotten the fruit snack out of T.R.'s mouth, but that T.R. was turning blue.

         [¶4.] Doohen was away from her apartment for approximately fifteen minutes. When she arrived back, she began performing CPR on T.R. Shortly thereafter, Sioux Falls Police Officer Cody Schulz arrived at the apartment to find Patterson near the entrance waving and screaming. Patterson told Officer Schulz that a child was choking, that the mother was doing CPR, and that Officer Schulz needed to help the child. When Officer Schulz reached the apartment, he had Doohen stop CPR so he could examine T.R. Officer Schulz did not notice any obstruction of T.R.'s airway, but did notice a sweet smell, and a sticky substance around T.R.'s mouth, appearing to be from candy.

         [¶5.] Paramedics arrived moments later, and T.R. was taken to Sanford Medical Center. Officer Schulz then interviewed Patterson about the incident. Patterson claimed when Doohen left for the gym, he left T.R. alone and went to the bathroom. Patterson stated that when he returned, he found T.R. lying slumped over and unresponsive on the couch. Patterson explained to Officer Schulz that he tried to assist T.R., and had removed a piece of gummy candy from the child's mouth. A piece of chewed gummy candy containing T.R.'s DNA was later retrieved from the floor of Doohen and Patterson's apartment.

         [¶6.] When T.R. arrived at the hospital, a CT scan revealed intracranial hemorrhaging. An examination of T.R.'s eyes further revealed widespread retinal hemorrhaging. Two days later, on October 11, 2013, T.R. was declared brain dead, and taken off of life support. An autopsy showed four subcutaneous hemorrhages on T.R.'s scalp consistent with blunt force trauma.

         [¶7.] Based upon T.R.'s injuries, Patterson was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, and aggravated battery of a child. On September 29, 2015, after a trial, a jury convicted Patterson on all counts. On November 19, 2015, Patterson was sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder, and 25 years to be served concurrently for aggravated battery of an infant. The trial court did not issue a sentence for manslaughter, finding the murder and manslaughter convictions arose from the same conduct.

         [¶8.] Patterson appeals his conviction, claiming the circuit court erred in:

1. Allowing the State to present other acts evidence to the jury.
2. Permitting the State to argue a factual theory of guilt and motive not ...

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