New witness testifies for defense at murder re-trial
A defense witness testified Wednesday in Justin Edward Patterson's murder re-trial that he witnessed the 2013 shooting of Mikki Jay Dauntain in Morgan City, a revelation he first told authorities a week ago.
Witness testimony concluded just before 5 p.m. Closing arguments were set to begin 9 a.m. Thursday.
Patterson is on trial on charges of second-degree murder and possession of firearm by a convicted felon in connection with the May 20, 2013, shooting death of Dauntain.
Patterson's first trial ended Dec. 9, 2016, in a mistrial due to a hung jury. Witness testimony in the second trial started Tuesday.
Suzanne deMahy, Patterson's attorney, called Kerry Martin to the stand Wednesday. Martin said he witnessed the shooting but couldn't identify Patterson as the shooter. Martin is currently in St. Mary Parish jail on charges unrelated to the killing of Dauntain.
Prior to a week ago, Martin had never told authorities he was at the scene of the shooting. When Martin heard that Patterson was about to go to trial, Martin got his family to contact Patterson's family about Martin witnessing the shooting because Patterson isn't the type of person who would do what he's accused of doing, Martin said.
He testified that he had been by a barbershop near where the shooting occurred for an hour or so leading up to the incident. At one point, he saw a woman pull up in a red car in front of the barbershop and get into an altercation with several other women.
Martin said he saw Dauntain get out of the car and tell the female driver that they needed to leave the area. Martin then saw someone come from behind a building wearing dark clothes and a hooded sweatshirt, but couldn't see any part of the person's face or head. The unidentified person shot Dauntain and then took off running the way he came from, Martin said.
Martin knew Patterson, yet he couldn't identify Patterson as the shooter.
Martin had been with two other witnesses, Sean Patterson and Carl Singleton, at the barbershop, he said.
Morgan City Police Detective Travis Trigg, who was in charge of investigating Dauntain's homicide, said he's worked the case since the beginning, and Martin's name has never come up in the investigation.
Prosecution witnesses alleged Tuesday that Justin Patterson shot Dauntain on Federal Avenue after several women, including Patterson’s sister Jessicah Johnson, stopped the car that Dauntain's girlfriend, Natasha Garner, was driving.
Johnson has yet to go to trial on a second-degree murder charge in the case.
The women were allegedly trying to get to Brandon Scott, whom Justin Patterson believed had robbed him several weeks earlier. Johnson busted out the window of the back seat where Scott was sitting, witnesses said.
Garner and another witness, Alani Clark, testified Tuesday that they saw Justin Patterson come from behind a building, point a gun at Dauntain's head and fire the gun. Despite saying that the shooter's face was partially covered, they still identified Patterson as the shooter.
Patterson’s ex-girlfriend, Ashley Rudolph, had testified that Patterson confessed to her just a few hours after the shooting that he shot Dauntain after mistaking Dauntain for Scott.
Trigg did gunshot residue tests on Justin Patterson, Scott and Dauntain, and all three tests came back indeterminate as to whether they had fired a gun or had been in close proximity to a gun around the time of the shooting.
During the investigation, Trigg located a cell phone that Rudolph testified Justin Patterson had the night of the shooting. Cell phone records showed several calls and texts between a phone registered to Rudolph's father, Joseph Madise, and a phone belonging to Justin Patterson’s sister, Johnson. Rudolph said she used Madise's phone that night to call and text Justin Patterson.
State Police Master Trooper Josh Van Etta said did a forensic download of Patterson's phone and recovered some text messages that had been deleted from the phone. A text at 10:12 p.m. May 20, 2013, from Patterson's phone to Johnson's phone stated, "Keep yo eyes on him."
But no further context was given for whom that text may been referring to.
Roman Bagley, who used to work with Patterson at Halimar Shipyard, testified for the prosecution that Justin Patterson talked about people who had allegedly broken into his home and robbed him. Justin Patterson was "pretty upset" about the incident, and said he was going to get the people involved. But Justin Patterson didn't elaborate what he meant by that, Bagley said.
Witness Colby DiNicola was with Patterson at DiNicola's home in Bayou Vista recording music the night of the shooting. DiNicola said Patterson came over to his home around 6 p.m., and DiNicola dropped Patterson back off at Patterson's home in Morgan City several hours later.
Prosecutor Anthony Saleme played an hour and 17-minute video interview police conducted with Patterson the morning after the shooting. In the video, Justin Patterson denied any involvement in Dauntain's shooting death, and said he had just fallen asleep at his home when he started getting a bunch of calls after 11 p.m. from multiple people asking if he shot Dauntain.
Patterson told police that he had been home from 10:30 p.m. until about 6 a.m. the next morning when he went to the police department upon learning police wanted to talk to him. He also said he had gotten into an argument with Rudolph the night of the shooting during which he said she threw a Coke can at him and busted his lip.
Rudolph testified Tuesday that she had made up the Coke can story to explain Justin Patterson's busted lip.
Forensic Pathologist Dr. Michael DeFatta performed an autopsy on Dauntain and ruled his cause of death a gunshot wound to the right side of the head. DeFatta classified the wound as a distant gunshot wound, and said the gun was no closer than 3 feet from Dauntain when it was fired due to lack of stippling or soot around the wound.