TARRANT COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Anthony Ryan Patterson’s upcoming trial for 20 felony counts of trafficking and child sex crimes has been postponed.
78th District Court Judge Meredith Kennedy granted a motion filed by Patterson’s defense team requesting on Friday, November 3, 2023, during a hearing held in the 396th District court on Monday afternoon, November 6, 2023.
Judge Kennedy said she is resetting the case to February 26, 2024, to ensure Patterson has a fair trial after his lead defense attorney, Toby Shook, was “severely injured” the day before proceedings were set to begin on Monday, October 30, 2023.
During the hearing, two other members of Patterson’s defense team, Chuck Smith and Kim Laseter, testified that they assisted Shook in preparation for Patterson’s trial, but they were not prepared to serve as co-lead counsel for Patterson.
John Gillespie, Wichita County’s District Attorney, cross-examined both attorneys, both of whom testified that though they have decades of experience as attorneys, they do not feel they are qualified or prepared at this time to provide a fair defense for Patterson, and if made to serve as co-lead counsel right now, they would be doing Patterson a disservice.
The prosecution called an employee of 2Ingage, a Wichita Falls organization that works with CPS regarding children, who testified that the oldest alleged victim in Patterson’s case is currently experiencing anxiety and psychological issues due to her having to testify.
The employee testified further that when the case was reset in May 2023, the child was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after expressing suicidal ideations, stating the Patterson case was the source of the suicidal ideations.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Kennedy granted the motion but said she was not happy that she was having to do so.
“Hopefully I don’t have a child suicide on my conscience,” Judge Kennedy said.
Judge Kennedy let counsel for both the prosecution and the defense know that regardless of Shook’s health status in February 2024, the case has been specially set and will proceed with or without him.
Patterson, 47, of Wichita Falls, is the former president of a Wichita Falls automotive group who was first arrested in February 2021 and eventually indicted on 20 felony charges involving child trafficking and child sex crimes.
Patterson’s trial was set to begin on Monday, October 30, 2023, at the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in Fort Worth, however, jury selection was delayed at the request of the defense.
On Friday, November 3, 2023, a sealed motion was filed by the defense requesting a continuance of the trial due to Toby Shook, Patterson’s lead defense attorney, being “seriously injured” on October 29, just before the scheduled start of jury selection.