Bloody murder weapon displayed

Published 9:49 am Thursday, August 18, 2016

Warren County prosecutors produced for jurors the still-bloody axe, which investigators said was found embedded deeply in the throat of Alfred Patton, 63, of 60 Nebula Drive, Vicksburg.

A neighbor discovered Patton’s lifeless body on Sept. 22, 2015, when he became concerned after not seeing him for several days.

Patton’s nephew, Joseph Patton, 35, who was living with him at the time, is charged with murder in his uncle’s death and is being tried in Circuit Court Judge M. James Chaney Jr.’s 9th Circuit courtroom at the Warren County Courthouse.

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Jury selection began Tuesday morning and a jury of 12 members and two alternates was not seated until about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The jury and alternates — made up of two men and 12 women — are being sequestered for the duration of the trial.

Wednesday morning, the prosecution began presenting what seemed like a plethora of evidence against Joseph Patton, including a video of Patton at Home Depot in Vicksburg purchasing the axe used to kill Alfred Patton, as well as an audio conversation between a Met Life representative and Joseph Patton as Joseph Patton purchased a $20,000 life insurance policy with a $25,000 additional payout in the event of accidental death in Albert Patton’s name, naming himself as sole beneficiary.

Ninth District Assistant District Attorney Marcie T. Southerland called as her first witness neighbor William “Eddie” Thigpen, who found Albert Patton’s body on Sept. 22. He described for the jury the rocky relationship between the older Patton and his nephew.

“They were constantly arguing, constantly complaining about him (Joseph). He said he would not clean up after himself, said he didn’t work, ran the street and just disturbed him. He just didn’t want him there,” Thigpen testified.

Thigpen said he watched the Sept. 17, 2015, NFL game between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs at Patton’s home next door. He said they made a $2 wager on the game, and Patton’s Chiefs lost.

He said the last time he saw Alfred Patton alive was on Friday, when he walked over to his home to give Thigpen his $2.

Thigpen said Joseph Patton lived with his uncle Alfred Patton several times over the years.

“More or less, Joseph would just show up. He told him to get out, but he didn’t follow through with it,” because Joseph was family and he didn’t have anyplace else to live, Thigpen said.

He said he and Alfred Patton were very good friends and saw each other almost daily. That’s why, when he didn’t see his friend on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, he became concerned. He said when Alfred Patton was away from home, he left his front porch light on. However, when he returned from work on Tuesday, Sept. 22, and saw the porch light still on, he had to act.

Thigpen said he called Milton Davis, a relative of Alfred Patton’s, and asked if he knew where the older Patton was. Thigpen said Davis told him he was at home. That’s when Thigpen went to Alfred Patton’s home next door and discovered his body.

Thigpen’s girlfriend, Gabrielle Phillips, testified Alfred Patton was a good friend and neighbor. She said when Alfred came over on Friday to pay her boyfriend his winnings from their football bet, he began talking about Joseph and wanting him to leave.

During that conversation, Phillips said Joseph came over and joined Alfred and her husband. She said she heard Joseph threaten Alfred.

“Joseph said to Alfred, ‘I bet you were talking about me like a dog,’ and Alfred said, ‘Yep.’ And then Joseph told him, ‘You keep on and one of these days you’re going to regret it,’ ” Phillips testified.

Phillips described Alfred Patton as “compassionate and funny. He didn’t see color. He had a free spirit and always would brighten your day. We loved him to death.”

She said that Friday evening, Sept. 18, was the last time she saw Alfred Patton alive.

However, she testified she saw Joseph Patton on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, and again on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, at Alfred Patton’s home.

Jerry Campbell, who is representing Joseph Patton, cross-examined Phillips, asking why she told Warren County sheriff’s investigators on the evening Alfred Patton’s body was discovered that the last time she saw Joseph Patton was on Saturday.

“It was a mistake,” Phillips said. “You have to understand, I was upset and startled and had encountered something that was traumatic. I didn’t remember that I had seen Joseph again on Monday until later.”

Phillips said she was by the roadway at the bus stop on Monday between 4 and 4:30 p.m. to pick up her children when she saw Joseph Patton turn into the driveway and head to Alfred Patton’s house.

“He said hello,” Phillips said.

District Attorney Richard “Ricky” Smith Jr., who serves the 9th District of west-central Mississippi, began walking investigators through evidence found at the scene and in Joseph Patton’s car, which was seized and searched after Patton was arrested on Sept. 23.

District attorney’s investigator Chris Satcher was on call when he was summoned to the crime scene. He and sheriff’s deputy Jessie Tilly initially worked the scene.

Satcher said because of the amount the body had composed, he thinks Alfred Patton had been dead for “several days” when he was found.

Deputy Warren County Coroner Kelda Bailess agreed.

Satcher went over a number of items found at the crime scene, including a bottle of Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin with a milky white substance inside, a pair of silver shorts that included several papers with Joseph Patton’s name on them, as well as a Green Dot debit card, which investigators would later learn was used to purchase the murder weapon, a bottle of bleach from Family Dollar, as well as pay the first month’s premium on the Met Life insurance policy taken out in Alfred Patton’s name.

When Warren County investigators arrested Joseph Patton at an apartment complex in the 3100 block of Washington Street on Wednesday, Sept. 23, they said they found in his car a notebook, which included a to-do list and what appeared to be a shopping list.

That list included “Clorox, garbage bags, Benedryl, blankets and towels,” Lt. Randy Lewis, a 21-year Warren County sheriff’s investigator, said.

The prosecution will resume presenting its case at 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning.