COSTA RICA NEWS – Brazil born, U.S. Expat Anne Patton on Tuesday was convicted by the Tribunal de Juicio de Pérez Zeledón to 22 years in prison for the murder of husband.
The Tribunal (court) read the judgement at 3:20pm Tuesday, finding Patton guilty of killing her husband, U.S. financier John Felix Bender, in 2010, while he was asleep. The Tribunal rejected the defense’s claim of suicide. Bender was 44 years of age when he died on January 8, 2010.
Judges Adolfo Calderón Bogantes, Cristian Calvo de la O and Liner Zúñiga Herrera also ordered Patton to nine months of preventive detention (jail), the appeal and review period of her sentence.
Judge Calvo explained that the remand (preventive detention) order was based on the fact that Patton has no job or family ties in Costa Rica and is a flight risk.
Last year, Patton was acquitted for the murder Bender that took place in the luxurious and expansive home, located in a 1.000 hectare property in Florida de Barú de Pérez Zeledón, where the couple lived. However, an appeals court ordered a new trial, a trial that began on Monday, May 19.
In the first trial, the Tribunal had doubts that led to the acquittal decision on January 21, 2013, but was overturned by the Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia de Cartago (Appeals Court) in September of that year, ordering a new trial. In Costa Rica there is no double jeopardy that forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same (or similar) charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction.
Judge Cristian Calvo de la O, in explaining the sentence, said that based on the trial evidence, they firmly believed she “wanted to end the life of her husband.” In Costa Rica, it is customary for the trial judges to explain their decisions at the end of the proceedings.
The Judge continued to explain that the Patton took advantage of the fact that her husband was asleep, waiting for the right moment to act without risk, “in a homicidal mood”. The Judges said they found the act unjustified and found Patton’s action more reprehensible because the crime “was committed in a room (the bedroom) that is supposed to be a place of security, where one goes to rest”.
Although the prosecution had asked for a 25 year prison sentence, the Judges decided on 22 years in consideration Patton has has no other criminal record and is ill.
Pérez Zeledón deputy Prosecutor, Édgar Ramírez Villalobos, told the press “justice was served”, and that the Judges were unanimous in their evaluation of the strong evidence produced at trial, disproving the defence’s argument that Bender had committed suicide.
Bender was found dead by a single gunshot wound. Forensic investigators determined that he had been shot from a distance of 40 centimetres, a distance that would be impossible for Bender (or any other person) to shoot themselves, explained Villalobos.
Video by PZHoy.com of Patton on first day of trial.