It is surprising how often it amazes me how people who commit murder so often think they can commit it in a way in which they will not get caught. I realize that not every police department has a stellar force or have the ability to solve every crime but I also know that despite comments of the contrary there are people with common sense and in some crimes that is all that is needed. This is one of them.
On July 2, 2009 Scott Pattison, from the small town of LaFontaine Indiana in Wabash County, called 911 from his vehicle. He would tell the dispatcher that he had found his wife, Lisa, inside their home pinned under a barbell on their weight bench and was headed to the nearby town of Marion Indiana to the hospital. He asked dispatchers for a police escort. An ambulance intercepted Scott on his drive and transported Lisa themselves. Upon arrival at the hospital Lisa would be pronounced dead.
Despite having a small police force, and not a lot of high profile crimes in the area, investigators were immediately suspicious of Scott's story. It seemed unreasonable that he would find his wife injured in their home and instead of immediately calling 911 he had moved her and attempted to transport her himself. They obviously immediately interviewed Scott. He would tell investigators that he had returned home from work around 11:30 that morning and had gone inside the home about fifteen minutes later when he would find his wife in their basement weight room. He would say that he removed the weight bar from his wife, attempted CPR and then put her in the vehicle and headed towards the hospital. His 911 call was made at 12:14pm.
Investigators would first go look at the home and while there they discovered there was a security system but when they looked there was not a DVD in the machine so they assumed that it meant the system had not recorded anything. They also interviewed friends and family of the couple while a coroner was performing an autopsy and determining an official cause of death. The coroner would later state that Lisa had died from “asphyxia due to neck compression,” basically saying that the barbell had crushed her throat. The other side of the investigation had detectives finding signs of a very troubled marriage.
About six months prior to Lisa's death the police had been called to the Pattison home for a domestic complaint. Not a lot was done because the police determined that the issue was not physical and basically consisted of shouting between the couple. A few months later, in March of 2009 Scott had filed for divorce but the couple was still living together with Lisa's son, Dillion McCoy who was just a few weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday and was working with Scott at his roofing business on the day Lisa died. Scott would tell investigators, despite the marital issues, and the fact that their home was up for sale, he and Lisa were attempting to work on their marriage. Others would tell investigators a very different story and the evidence discovered also disputed Scott's claims.
One of the first things that apparently popped up was the fact that there was a report that in 2001 the sheriff's department had received a call that Scott had asked someone to kill Lisa for him. Nothing seemed to have come from the issue and the fact that it was eight years prior to her death really did little but peak the interests of the investigators. Then on July 15th investigators received a call from a man who worked for the surveillance company and had installed the cameras in the Pattison home. According to the caller not only had Scott Pattison called asking how to erase any taped surveillance soon after his wife died, the installer informed investigators that the fact that they had not found a DVD in the system did not mean it had not recorded. The system in which was installed automatically recorded images on the hard drive and the DVD portion was only used for transferring onto a DVD.
Using this information, along with other evidence the investigators had gathered they asked for a search warrant to obtain the video. In a 2011 appeal this search warrant and the validity would be of much debate. According to the defense in the appeal the investigators had used what they, and the courts, would call “stale” evidence to obtain the warrant. This was a phrase that I am unsure that I had heard before but it seemed rather easy to understand. The defense was arguing against an illegal search and seizure. In my opinion they were grasping at straws because they knew that the evidence that had been found on the surveillance camera completely disputed their client's statement of what he had done that day and had been instrumental in his 2010 conviction. In order to get a search warrant investigators much prove that there is good cause and reason for it. To be honest I am unsure why the officer who compiled the warrant to show the judge added much of what he did. All he needed to say was that they had received the call about the surveillance equipment and maybe add in that it was reported that Pattison had asked how to erase it, indicating it was in danger of being lost. But, basically the officer added information from the 2001 call they had received and investigated, information that Lisa's friend had told her several months prior that she placed Internet tracking software on their computer because Scott was having an affair, and a few other things. The courts did rule that much of the information contained in the application for the search warrant was “old,” “irrelevant” or “stale” but the fact that the important information was in the warrant is what mattered the most and made the warrant valid.
The surveillance video ended up being vital to the case. It showed that Scott had not returned home around 11:30 as he had claimed. According to the video he had returned home at 8:30 that morning, some three hours earlier than he had stated. He was seen in and out of his house on the video, pacing the drive, talking on the phone and after changing clothing several times between the time he arrived and 11:38. This became of vital importance at the trial because not only had it disputed his time frame, his actions on the tape did not match either.
Then there was the barbell. According to Lisa's son, Dillion, he had only seen his mother use the barbell once and never at the 104 pounds that was reportedly on it when she was harmed. He would report that when he heard his mother had died while in the weight room he believed it would have been while on the treadmill. The weight bench, and the barbell, with the weights still on it, was brought into the court room. It was not big enough to fit into the jury room. During the trial one of the jurors asked about examining the weight bench and the judge informed them that during their deliberations if they felt the need to look at the bench he would ensure that the courtroom was cleared so they could do so. This was brought up in open court and at the time the defense did not object. Later, in the appeal, the defense would argue that when the jury did examine it they did so outside the presence of anyone and that they performed their own experiments on the bench and would claim that it was outside the scope of what was presented in the court. First the appeals court ruled that there was no standing to appeal on the issue of the jury examining it alone because the trial defense had not brought up an objection. Secondly they ruled that based on the information they had received the experiments that the jury performed on the weight bench were consistent with information they had heard from either side during the course of the trial.
Throughout his November 2010 trial, well and prior, the biggest issue or drama I should say, came from the fact that there was a mistress involved. Scott had apparently admitted to this as there was little that he could do to hide it since apparently several people would report and testify that not only was he having an affair, but that Lisa knew it and it was the reason for the pending divorce. Scott would tell investigators however that the affair had ended and they were working on reconciliation. Phone records would prove this not to be true. Prosecutors were able to show that throughout the day of Lisa's death Scott and his mistress, Stacey Henderson had sent and received over 100 text messages, even while he was allegedly driving Lisa to the hospital. It was not believed that Henderson was directly involved in Lisa's death and nothing could prove that she knew anything beforehand either. However, prosecutors granted Henderson immunity presumably so they would get what they felt like was the truth from her as it seemed to be rather sketchy coming from Scott. There was only one problem, according to the prosecutors she still went on the stand and lied. She would testify that her boss, who happened to be the mayor of Marion Indiana, gave her information concerning the investigation and that she passed it on to Scott before his arrest in September of 2009, some two months after Lisa died. In one text she told Scott that her boss had told her that the investigators had ruled out foul play. Officers would testify that this was not true considering they were suspicious in the beginning of Scott and his story. Her boss, the mayor also denied ever speaking to Henderson, let alone investigators about the case. After the trial was over Henderson was charged with a felony perjury charge. In March of 2011 she would enter in a plead deal that dropped that charge while she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false informing. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail but it was suspected. She spent sixty days on home detention and received a years probation.
The defense would argue at Scott's trial that DNA was not taken from Lisa's fingerprints, nor had investigators tested fluid that was found on the bench. This was part of their ploy to make the investigation, and the investigators look like they did a shoddy job. Of course DNA should have probably been taken, however, as the prosecutor pointed out, even if Scott's DNA had been found it would have meant little considering the fact that he lived in the home and used the equipment himself. There was never an argument in which it was suggested that anyone else was to blame for her death. The two choices were apparently that either Scott did it himself by allowing the bar to fall on her and then pushing it down, crushing her airway, or it was an accident.
In November of 2010 the jury found Scott Pattison guilty of first degree murder. The following month he was sentenced to sixty years in prison, where he continues to sit today. Based on his 2011 appeal it does not seem that there is likely a chance that he will be released before the year 2039 and that is only his first chance at parole.