The Pryor Times

January 30, 2014

Mayes County Jury sentences man to life

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — A Mayes County jury found Jeffery Patton guilty and sentenced him to life in prison Wednesday afternoon.

The jury entered deliberation at 2:26 p.m. after a three-day trial. Patton, 49, was charged with manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance (methamphetamine), possession of a firearm during commission of a felony and possession of a firearm after former felony conviction.

There is some confusion about Patton’s residence, which has at times been listed as Claremore, but the trailer where he was arrested is in Pryor.

After an hour of deliberation the jury found him guilty of manufacturing methamphetamine and reccomended a life sentence and a $50,000 fine. The jury also found Patton guily of possession of of a firearm and recommended a 10-year sentence. On the charge of possession of a firearm after former felony conviction, the jury found him guilty and recommended a two-year sentence.

“This isn't Miami Vice, it's not fast cars and police chases,” said Assistant District Attorney Glen Dresback. “This is a guy in coveralls running from the cops.”

In his closing statements, Dresback described the defendant bursting from the residence and running into the woods. He described officers entering the home and finding a .22 rifle lying on the bed. He described the materials found in the home, all commonly used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

“You heard me ask all of the officers if there was any way the defendant could have been in the trailer and not have been aware of what was going on, and they said no,” Dresback said to the jury. “There is no way the defendant was there and hadn't the foggiest idea they were manufacturing meth. The meth is why they were there.”

Dresback retrieved the firearm, which had been entered as evidence, and raised it in the air for the jury to see.

“Using a firearm in commission of a felony. The gun wasn't put away in a safe, it was ready to be used. Why? Because manufacturing meth is dangerous and illegal,” said Dresback. “Why else would they have a surveillance system in place and windows blocked? They were prepared to fight to protect themselves and their lab.

“When Jeffery Patton saw the cops pull up to his trailer he ran like hell. Is that normal? No. But he knew what hew as doing was illegal and wrong. He knew there were consequences,” said Dresback.

Dresback reminded the jury of his opening statements in which he told them this would be the story of drugs, consequences, and trying to get off the hook.

“You get to write the end of this story, it's time for some consequences,” Dresback said.

The defendant's attorney, Misty Fields, began her closing statements by explaining that the state has the responsibility of meeting the burden of proof.

“It's as if we gave them a boulder and a chisel three days ago,” she said. “If there is any pebble left on that table at the end of this, that's a reasonable doubt. Here in America we don't lock people up for (the jury) being pretty sure.”

Fields talked about witness credibility, recounting the testimony of two Mayes County Officers and one Rogers County Officer.

“When we were asking when the windows of the trailer were broken out, Officer Early said 'well I don't remember.' Then we put on Officer Davis, who used his baton to bust out the window and he couldn't remember. I find that strange,” Fields said of the two Mayes County Officers.

“Compare the officer in Claremore who remembered these details nearly a year later, and this wasn't even his case, versus the Mayes County Officers you can't get straight answers from.”

Fields pointed out there were no finger- prints taken from the weapon, therefore, she said, the state had given zero evidence the firearm belonged to the defendant.

“Officer Davis talked about the defendant running. What does that matter? It doesn't. He ran. The state is quite impressed with that fact but it doesn't have any legal significance,” said Fields. “He talked about the meth fog surrounding the trailer, but would it have been too much to ask for him to stand in the yard and take a picture of the fog for you. He didn't.”

Fields told the jury the officers sent “only 1.42 grams of meth” to the lab. She held up a packet of sugar to demonstrate how much a gram is.

Fields told the jury they were about to be asked to put a man in jail for 21years up to life, based on this evidence. She added that she “has a problem with that.

“And I think it's pretty clear they haven't proven any possession. If I was at Officer Davis' house and I liked his lamp, I have access to it but I don't have the right to it. It's not suddenly my lamp, I don't possess it,” Fields said.

“Mere presence at the scene of the crime doesn't mean you committed the crime,” she concluded.

“Oh, you made meth on someone else's property so we'll give you a pass? No, that's not reasonable,” Dresback said, in regard to Fields’ suggestion the state had not met the burden of proof concerning Patton's address.

“He is an older man, not a young kid. He has been convicted of drug charges twice before,” Dresback said. “He's not going to change, if he was going to he would have already.”