DNA-test hearing ordered in '02 case

DNA-test hearing ordered in '02 case

A Champaign County court could soon consider whether a former Champaign man gets an opportunity to undergo new DNA testing more than nine years after he was sentenced to prison for a 2002 murder.

In an opinion published on Wednesday, the Fourth District Appellate Court reversed part of an earlier court's decision denying a motion on behalf of Ricky Patterson.

Champaign County Judge J.G. Townsend sentenced Patterson in May 2003 to 50 years in prison for the murder of Derrick Prout in June 2002 and five years for concealment of a homicidal death for trying to obliterate evidence at the murder scene and moving Mr. Prout's body.

Patterson was also sentenced to five years in prison for arson for setting fire to the home he was renting on Duncan Road in Champaign where the murder occurred. The home was owned by Alto Vineyards.

A jury convicted him in April 2003 for the murder of Mr. Prout, 31, of Indianapolis, formerly of Urbana.

Patterson's attorney had appealed to the state appellate court to allow new DNA testing.

On Wednesday, the appellate court published a decision rejecting Patterson's request to directly order DNA testing. Instead, it issued an order, called a mandate, to have further proceedings in Champaign County court to determine whether Patterson has met the requirements of the state statute that allows DNA testing.

After the mandate from the appellate court has been filed in Champaign County, further proceedings can be scheduled on Patterson's motion, according to Champaign County Assistant State's Attorney Joel Fletcher.

According to testimony in the 2003 trial, Mr. Prout came to Champaign County to sell marijuana to a man he knew only as Ricky. He phoned his wife in Indianapolis on June 17, 2002, to say that he had made contact with Ricky but that Ricky didn't have all the money for the buy and that they had to go to another place to get it.

That was the last that Mr. Prout's wife and two children ever heard from him.

Other family members of his who live in Urbana also tried in vain to track him down in the days after that call, learning in the process that the Ricky whom Mr. Prout had contact with was Patterson.

Early on June 19, 2002, Patterson's home at 4012 N. Duncan Road burned, with authorities immediately recognizing it as arson. That same day, Patterson met with members of Mr. Prout's family in Urbana and admitted to them he had bought cannabis from Mr. Prout but said they went their separate ways after the transaction.

On June 22, 2002, Mr. Prout's body was found in a remote area of Lake County in the trunk of his car, which had been burned.

Police investigators found Patterson in St. Louis the same day. He was questioned regarding the disappearance of Mr. Prout but not arrested for his murder until Sept. 10, 2002.

Prosecutors built a largely circumstantial case against Patterson, the strongest evidence being the presence of Mr. Prout's blood on the carpet at Patterson's home. Cleaning fluids were also found on the carpet.

Prosecutors also pieced together a trail of cellphone records that showed Patterson to be in Champaign County at a time when he claimed to be in the Chicago area. And Mr. Prout was found wrapped in a blanket that was the same as one that had been in Patterson's home.

A pathologist determined he had been stabbed several times in the head and neck and shot twice after his death.

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billbtri5 wrote on July 13, 2012 at 10:07 am

"a little pot doesn't hurt anybody" right?....

scollins4443 wrote on July 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm
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why is it when the courts will not allow someone to prove their innocence is beyond me. Andre Davis served 30 plus years for something he didn't do by the forensic tool of DNA. If Ricky Patterson can prove he is innocent, let him. The courts never want to admit a miscarriage of justice has taken place because of over-zealous prosecution and twisting the truth to meet their needs to win a convinction. I have never read in The Constitution to where anyone had to buy justice. Alot of scumbags like the one that implicated Davis deserves prison but if this is his last avenue for justice, let him have it and then if that doesn't exonerate him, throw away the key. Prosecutors are human too but don't let them do what they did to him what they done to Andre. People make mistakes and they should be big enough to admit they made one! Given the circumstances, he looks guilty.

MrsB wrote on July 28, 2012 at 10:07 pm

I will agree that Champaign County is messed up in the way their justice system works. I have seen crimes committed with overwhelming evidence and Champaign prosecutors did nothing! I have also seen an overwhelming amount of time given for minor crimes. However in regards to Ricky Patterson; he should have gotten the death penalty! Ricky is guilty and everyone close to this case knows it. Including Ricky's family! Ricky is a weak coward, liar, thief, murderer who should never be set free. He did the crime he needs to man up and do the time. Let him get the DNA test and when it proves further what we already know they need to increase the sentence. The way Derrick was murdered was incredibly heinous. Ricky and company took Derrick from his children, family and friends. They all need to pay for what they did; Ricky's the only one paying for this crime now. Maybe the DNA will shed light on his little helper, please give him the DNA testing and lay all the lies bare! <?xml:namespace prefix = o />