MAYS LANDING - Is Patrick Latko, accused of a 2011 double homicide, “the unluckiest guy in the world? Or did he kill Ryan and Diana Patterson?”
That was the question Chief Assistant Prosecutor Cary Shill asked the eight men and eight women in the jury Wednesday , as closing arguments were heard in Atlantic County Superior Court.
The defense began its closings, claiming that the evidence in the fatal stabbing of Ryan, 29, and Diana, 64, in Hammonton on Nov. 3, 2011 did not directly implicate Latko, 33, in the deaths.
But while no DNA found matched Latko’s, Shill argued the circumstantial evidence links him to the deaths of the mother and son in their South Madison Avenue home.
But not a drop of blood was found on Latko or his belongings, argued public defender Kevin Moses.
“So there were 20 stab wounds, two slit throats....so whoever did this would've been a bloody mess,” Moses said to the jury.
He told the jurors that even if they “buy into the soap opera”of the troubled personal relationship of Latko which left him heartbroken, the evidence - texts between himself and former girlfriend Holly Patterson- do not indicate Latko attempted to get back together with her.
Ryan Patterson was a mutual friend of the then couple, and Holly Patterson- no relation- testified last week that she had not had contact with the deceased in weeks prior to the homicides.
In fact, she had been “stood up” by him just days before, Shill said.
He told the jury that the blood surrounding the bodies was not “a river of blood,” so it was possible for a person not to have blood on their shoes- leaving an imprint on the lawn or driveway.
But the question of the removed floor mats still remains: Why would someone removed the driver and passenger floor mats from a borrowed car, Shill asked.
Circumstantial evidence can often be more powerful than direct evidence, he said.
The circumstances leading the prosecution to believe Latko is the alleged killer include text messages, a stained knife belonging to him with Ryan Patterson’s blood, and video surveillance showing him changing his clothes soon after the homicides.
Several of the texts sent from Latko’s phone to friends often talked about his feelings for Holly Patterson, including days before the homicides, and talk about her as if she is still his girlfriend and is cheating on him, Shill said. In addition, he tells his friends how depressed he is and how she is “fighting her feelings” for him.
“In Patrick Latko’s world, ‘it’s all about me,’” Shill said to the jury. And texts to his friends often insinuated that Holly Patterson was unsure about her feelings or expressing how much he missed her.
“This is his version of it. She’s putting him through something. But she’s not putting him through anything she wants nothing to do with him,” Shill said.
In her testimony last week, Holly Patterson said she considered herself single at the time of the homicides, and had broken up with Latko in the summer.
Additionally, after having lost his phone at the Pattersons’ residence, Latko never indicated he was actively searching for it, Shill said.
The jury heard the charges and are deliberating at this time.