WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Ahead of the start of Anthony Patterson’s jury trial for trafficking and child sex crimes, final procedural preparations were made during the last scheduled hearing to be held in Wichita County.
Patterson is set to face a judge and jury on these charges in Auxiliary Trial Room E of the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in Fort Worth beginning on Monday, October 30, 2023, with 78th District Court Judge Meredith Kennedy presiding.
On October 6, 2023, less than a week before Patterson’s final scheduled pretrial hearing in Wichita County, his defense team filed a large number of documents with the Wichita County District Clerk, including six motions in limine, one of which addressed a recent notice filed by the prosecution.
Ahead of the start of Patterson’s trial in Fort Worth, a pre-trial hearing to address these matters and to prepare for the trial was held on Thursday, October 12, 2023. The hearing began at 1:30 p.m. in the 78th District Court.
Mother of alleged victims recalls outcry statements
One of the first items addressed during the pretrial hearing was determining whether or not outcry statements made by the alleged child victims to various adults would be allowed to be admitted into evidence during Patterson’s trial.
The prosecution, led by Brooke Grona-Robb, Assistant District Attorney of Wichita County, called a Vernon woman to the stand. She testified that she is the mother of two of the alleged victims of the crimes Patterson is accused of.
The mother of the alleged victims testified that at some time in December 2018, her youngest daughter made an outcry regarding an incident that took place on November 18, 2017. She testified she remembered that date specifically, because November 18 is her birthday.
The alleged victim’s mother testified regarding some of the allegations in the indictments against Patterson, though she was unable to confidently tell the court when those outcries were made to her or which of her two daughters said what things.
Despite the fogginess of her memory, the alleged victim’s mother testified she believed what her daughters told her was true.
“One thing I know is that it happened because I know my kids,” the alleged victim’s mother said.
Patsy’s House executive director testifies
Grona-Robb then called to the witness stand Denise Roberts, Executive Director at Patsy’s House Child Advocacy Center, who conducted the forensic interview with the two alleged victims of the crimes Patterson is accused of committing.
Roberts was able to give an account that was much more precise and detailed, referencing transcripts of the forensic interviews with the alleged victims to answer questions asked by Grona-Robb and by the defense during cross-examination.
Roberts testified that a forensic interview is important because it gives the child an opportunity to tell in their words what, if anything, has happened.
Roberts also testified that the interview is made to be done in a non-leading way to be able to gather those details from a child if something has happened, in order to create a reliable statement.
Grona-Robb argued that Roberts was able to testify to more details than the mother of the alleged victim and requested that the Court allow Roberts to serve as the outcry witness on behalf of the alleged victims. The request was granted by Judge Kennedy.
Defense motion regarding ‘bad acts’ in State’s notice
On Thursday, September 28, 2023, Brooke Grona-Robb, Assistant District Attorney for Wichita County, filed a Rule 404(b) notice with the court that the prosecution may introduce a number of “crimes, wrongs or acts, other than the act alleged in the indictment.”
The notice includes 25 individual allegations of bad acts, including an accusation that Patterson held a Bible and instructed his alleged victims to say blasphemous statements directed at Jesus.
Patterson’s defense team requested an order prohibiting the prosecution from admitting, attempting to admit, or alluding to the alleged crimes, wrongs, or acts listed in the notice during the guilt-innocence phase of the trial without first holding a hearing outside the jury’s presence.
The motion argued that 16 of the 25 acts listed in the state’s notice “have nothing to do with” the alleged victims of the crimes for which Patterson will stand trial. For the remaining 9 acts listed, the defense argued that Patterson must be tried on what is alleged in the indictment and not for collateral crimes.
Further, the defense argued that since the extraneous acts don’t show a modus operandi, a motive, an opportunity to commit the alleged crime, any intent, any preparation or knowledge, evidence of flight, or an absence of mistake or accident, the acts should not be admitted.
In essence, for each of the 25 bad acts alleged by the prosecution, Patterson’s defense requested a hearing during the trial and outside the presence of the jury to determine whether or not the evidence or testimony was admissible in court.
Judge Kennedy rules on each ‘bad act’
Grona-Robb and Michael Mowla, one of Patterson’s defense attorneys, told Judge Kennedy that they had mutually agreed the state would bring certain alleged bad acts up only during the punishment phase of the trial, including the allegations of Patterson’s history of possessing pornography and allegations of marital unfaithfulness.
Judge Kennedy granted the defense’s motion for a hearing outside the jury’s presence regarding the alleged bad acts concerning the most recent outcry by an alleged victim who said Patterson sexually assaulted her in 2004 and 2005. The defense argued that those allegations took place more than 12 years prior to the allegations for which Patterson was first indicted in 2021. Judge Kennedy agreed.
Judge Kennedy also granted the defense the ability to request a hearing regarding the allegations that Patterson attempted to bribe his co-defendant, Bell, and alter the statement she gave to the police.
For all other alleged bad acts the state gave notice they intended to introduce as evidence, Judge Kennedy denied the defense’s request for a hearing outside the jury’s presence, meaning the prosecution would be able to admit said evidence during the guilt-innocence phase of Patterson’s trial whenever they deem it to be appropriate.
This includes allegations that Patterson used a Bible during a sex act, that Patterson had a history of seeking out simulated sex with children, making claims that he had sex with children, and wanting his partners to blaspheme Jesus while having real or simulated sex.
At one point, Mowla argued that there’s a difference between a sexual fantasy and a bad act and that despite Patterson’s fantasies, he never actually had sex with a child or in the presence of a child. Further, Mowla argued that Patterson having a conversation with a phone sex worker about his fantasies should be protected under the First Amendment.
“I don’t believe there is a difference between a fantasy of having sex with a child and a bad act,” Grona-Robb replied. “I believe that is a bad act.”
Patterson elects for jury punishment, discloses experts
Also on October 6, 2023, Patterson’s defense team filed a notice that Patterson has elected to have a jury set his punishment if he’s found guilty on any of the 20 counts pending against him.
The Patterson defense team also disclosed and notified the Court of a number of apparent expert witnesses they intend to call during their presentation of evidence during the testimony phase of Patterson’s trial, including:
- Brian Ingram, a private investigator specializing in internet investigations and email tracing
- Dr. Aaron Pierce, a forensic mental health expert specializing in sex offender treatment and evaluation
- Dr. Anna Shursen, a licensed sex offender treatment provider
- Susan Abbey, a forensic document examiner and handwriting expert
- Ezio Leite, a psychotherapist from Ft. Worth
- Deborah Ridge, a sexual assault nurse examiner
Patterson’s high-profile defense team
Patterson’s defense team is made up of four attorneys, all of whom hail from the Dallas-Fort Worth area other than Chuck Smith, a Wichita Falls criminal defense attorney who spent seven years as an Assistant District Attorney in Wichita County before moving into private practice in 2002.
Michael Mowla, of Cedar Hill, represented former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger during her high-profile trial following the shooting death of her neighbor, Botham Jean.
Kim Laseter, of McKinney, is a criminal attorney in Collin County who spent 14 years as a prosecutor in both Denton and Collin Counties before moving into private practice.
Toby Shook, of Dallas, is widely regarded as one of the best criminal defense lawyers in Texas. Before entering private practice, Shook spent 20 years with the Dallas District Attorney’s Office, trying multiple high-profile cases, including the trials of serial killer Charles Albright and the AMC Grand killer. He’s also appeared on multiple episodes of NBC’s true crime series Dateline.
Looking ahead to the trial in Fort Worth
Patterson’s trial is set to get underway on Monday, October 30, 2023, in Auxiliary Trial Room E in the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in downtown Fort Worth.
Judge Kennedy spoke with counsel for the prosecution and the defense following Thursday afternoon’s pre-trial hearing to discuss the anticipated schedule of proceedings once the trial begins on October 30.
Judge Kennedy said she anticipates holding a hearing in Trial Room E at 9 a.m. on October 30 to address anything that may come up between now and then, and to ensure that both sides are set to proceed with voir dire and jury selection.
Judge Kennedy said she intends to begin jury selection at 1:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon in the voir dire courtroom, located on the second level of the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center. She said she expects a jury pool of 100 Tarrant County residents.
Judge Kennedy said she hopes to have a jury selected by the end of the day on Monday, October 30, but if voir dire extends to Tuesday, October 31, a jury will need to be selected by the Court’s lunch recess in order for opening statements to start at 1:30 p.m.
Although Judge Kennedy estimated the trial would last about two weeks, Grona-Robb said she expected to conclude testimony for the prosecution by Friday, November 3, at the earliest. Patterson’s defense team did not give an estimate of how long their case-in-chief would take.
Judge Kennedy advised counsel for both the prosecution and the defense that Friday, November 10 is Veteran’s Day, and the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center would be closed. She said the trial could extend into a third week, depending on how long each side takes to present its evidence and testimony.
This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available. All individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.