Patrick Latko was an irrationally jealous man intent on hunting down whomever his ex-girlfriend may have been seeing, the woman testified during a hearing Thursday.
Latko, 33, is accused of fatally stabbing Ryan Patterson, 29, and his 64-year-old mother, Diana Patterson, on Nov. 3, 2011, inside their Hammonton home.
A judge will decide next week whether the jury in Latko’s double-murder trial can hear about the anger he exhibited toward his former girlfriend and Patterson — whom he believed she was cheating with.
“I can’t believe you,” Latko texted Patterson one night around September 2011, the woman testified.
Holly Patterson — who is not related to the victims — said Latko was still living with her and her mother in Sewell, but the two were no longer dating. He started texting her that night, and found out she was out with a group that included Ryan Patterson. She said Latko began texting both of them while she and Ryan Patterson were at his Hammonton home with Patterson’s mother.
“I thought you were my friend,” she said Latko texted the man. “You’re just a dog.”
Defense attorney Kevin Moses questioned the validity of the texts, which were in a phone Holly Patterson said she threw away because it broke. An Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office detective is expected to testify about the texts Wednesday, and then Superior Court Judge Michael Donio will decide whether the evidence can be used at Latko’s trial, which begins April 22.
During her testimony, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Cary Shill asked Holly whether she and Ryan Patterson were physically involved, and she replied, “Not until later that night.”
Holly Patterson said she ended up staying with the Pattersons that weekend because her mother was worried it wouldn’t be safe for her to return home with Latko there.
“Pat was drinking,” Christina Patterson testified Thursday. “I was afraid for Holly to come home.”
The next day, Christine Patterson said, she found a hole had been punched in her shower. Only Latko had been home. He later told her he fell.
“You fall up?” she said she asked him. “Because it was above the head.”
Holly Patterson said Latko’s anger had turned to destruction before, when he went into her bedroom, breaking several items, including a computer and television.
Christina Patterson said she was “furious” when she saw the destruction.
“He was told he was going to have to pay for that damage,” she said. “It was uncalled for and it wasn’t going to happen in my house.”
Holly Patterson and Latko had been together about five years, with him living in the Sewell home about 4½ of those years and paying about $100 in rent a week. In the final months of their relationship, Latko would often question Patterson about who she was seeing, she said, including going through her phone and social media.
They broke up “because I was tired of being harassed every day for something I didn’t do,” she said.
The state also submitted a motion Thursday against the defense arguing third-party guilt, which is presenting a case that would show another person committed the crime. Shill said he saw no indication that someone else would be implicated by the defense, but he wanted to make the motion.
Moses seemed caught off guard by the motion, but said he would be ready to handle it when the case resumes Wednesday.
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