MAYS LANDING — “I didn’t do anything to you,” Ryan Patterson cried to the person stabbing him to death inside his Hammonton home.
But whether the 29-year-old man names his killer will be for a jury to decide when they hear the 911 call Patterson made early Nov. 3, 2011.
Patrick Latko’s murder trial is set for April 22 in the killings of Patterson and his 64-year-old mother, Diana, who were found dead inside their home on South Madison Avenue.
Diana Patterson was found dead in the kitchen, stabbed multiple times, Sgt. Patrick Snyder of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office testified Thursday during a hearing to decide whether the 911 call and statements Latko gave to investigators can be heard at trial. Inside his bedroom, Ryan Patterson was dead, with several stab wounds “and a substantial cut to his neck,” Snyder said.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Cary Shill argued that the 911 call indicates Ryan Patterson knew his killer and even called him by name.
Twice, according to transcripts provided by the state, Patterson says “Pat.”
“My mom’s being stabbed, too,” Patterson says on the tape.
“Is the person doing it still there?” the dispatcher asks. “Hello?”
She then tells someone that the victim has stopped talking.
But in the background, Patterson can be heard crying: “I didn’t do anything to you” and “I didn’t do anything.”
Superior Court Judge Michael Donio listened to the tape a third time in court, using headphones that Shill said made it more clear.
The first "Pat" is not discernible, but “the second, ‘Pat, I didn’t do anything,’ I can make that out, I believe,” Donio said.
Donio ruled that the tape — with headphones provided to each juror — can be played at trial, but that the defense can provide its own transcript of what it believes is said on the tape, including whether the word that might be" Pat" is something else.
Jurors will be read instructions that let them know the audio is the main evidence and that the transcripts are just a tool open to the interpretation of the person who transcribed them.
Statements Latko gave to police before he was questioned as a suspect will also be allowed at trial.
Latko’s former girlfriend, Holly Patterson, led investigators to interview him as a person of interest, Sgt. Patrick Snyder testified Thursday. The woman is not related to the victims but was friends with Ryan Patterson.
Snyder, a detective with the Prosecutor’s Major Crimes Unit, said the woman feared her estranged boyfriend may be involved, and that he had believed she was cheating on him and was going to find out who the man was.
He apparently believed it was Ryan Patterson.
The woman told detectives that she and Ryan started out as friends, but “it had turned romantic for just a brief period of time,” Snyder said.
Latko was cooperative in speaking with detectives both at his place of employment in Sewell, Gloucester County, and at the Deptford Township Police Department, Snyder said.
The first conversation was not recorded, but the second was. Latko was not read his rights because he was not under arrest and was free to go at any time, the detective said.
“At any point in the investigation, did you read Mr. Latko his Miranda rights?” public defender Kevin Moses asked.
“Yes,” Snyder replied.
“What did he do?”
“He asked for an attorney,” the detective said.
Donio ruled that the statements, which were not played in court Thursday, could be entered into evidence. While they may be used to question credibility if Latko’s answers have changed, the statements do not include a confession or even anything implicating him in the crime, Donio said.
One more hearing is scheduled before trial, then jury selection is expected to begin April 22. The trial — from jury selection to deliberations — is expected to last about two weeks.
In addition to two counts of murder, Latko is charged with three counts of tampering with evidence, one count of hindering apprehension and weapons offenses.
He is jailed in Salem County on $2 million bail.
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