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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Prosecutor lays out case for murder

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox
Testimony is expected to conclude today in the murder trial of Adella Patton, which is being held this week in Barry County Circuit Court. Yesterday, Barry County Prosecutor Johnny Cox and Assistant Prosecutor Pat Sullivan presented the bulk of their case against Patton, 48, in the Dec. 11, 2005, shooting death of Kevin Madison, of rural Exeter.

Cox is seeking conviction for second degree murder and armed criminal action. Patton is represented by Eagle Rock attorney John Lewright and Cassville attorney Robert Foulke. Lewright declined to identify the number of witnesses he was prepared to call. Judge J. Edward Sweeney has come out of retirement to preside at the trial.

The state called eight witnesses on Tuesday, including the first officers who arrived at Patton's rural Exeter home where the shooting took place. Springfield pathologist Dr. Keith Norton provided details on the cause of death, and Malena Jimenez from the Highway Patrol's crime lab provided documentation about the crime scene.

Fourteen witnesses were called yesterday by the state. Chief Detective Leonard Collins, who started his testimony on Tuesday, was on the stand when Cox played the eight-minute tape of the phone call to the Barry County Sheriff's Department for help right after the shooting took place.

Patton could be heard shouting into the phone that a man had been shot. Her voice could be heard in the background calling out Madison's first name and "I told you not to..."

Also living at Patton's residence was Keith Allison, who took over the phone when Patton left the house to try to help Madison, who had been shot in the head.

Patton had what witnesses described as an "on-again, off-again" relationship with Madison. Their relationship was strained on the day of the shooting. According to Detective Collins, Patton had asked Madison to remove deer meat he had left in her freezer.

Patton took the packet of meat and a birthday gift of long underwear for Madison's son and dropped them in the bed of the 1999 Ford pickup Madison had just purchased from his brother. Patton said she thought the lined truck bed would protect the truck when she dropped the load. Madison apparently thought differently, getting out of the truck and calling her names.

The verbal altercation became physical when Madison struck Patton in the face. She told police he "clocked" her with a hard blow to the face, causing her to lose her glasses.

Patton returned to the house, got her .22 caliber high stand R-100 revolver and went back to face Madison. She fired two shots. The first, she told officers, was over Madison's head to get him to leave. He came at her instead. She did not remember firing the second shot, which hit Madison in the forehead at close range, killing him.

According to Lisa Madison, Kevin's sister-in-law, who lived about a half-mile from Patton, no more than a second passed between the two shots when she heard them.

Allison did not see the shooting. In his testimony, Allison said he ran outside when he heard the shots and saw Madison on the ground with Patton holding the gun. Allison tried to call police, but Patton took over the phone to call herself. He could be heard on the police tape urging Patton to give him the gun, which she dropped in a living room chair before returning outside.

Todd Garrison, a 21-year veteran of the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crim Lab in Jefferson City, explained to jurors how he tested the weapon retrieved at the scene and compared bullets from nine test firings. Evidence showed the two shots fired at the Patton home came from cartridges discarded by the recovered gun. Nicholas Gerhardt, a criminalist for the crime lab, explained how he found gunshot residue on Patton and Madison but not on Allison.

Much of the testimony focused on the history between Patton and Madison and Patton's state of mind at the time of the shooting. According to Collins, Patton got angry when accused of being a liar and said Madison "knew how to push her buttons and make her mad."

In his cross-examination, Lewright brought out that Madison was convicted in 2003 in Lawrence County of assaulting Patton and served prison time. Collins said he did not have access to out-of-county records and was only familiar with the restraining order against Madison that Patton got in 2002.

Robert Evenson, then a criminal investigator for the Barry County Sheriff who took charge of the crime scene, sat in on the post-shooting interview with Patton. Evenson described Patton's interview as "bizarre." Her comments went in circles, according to Evenson. Collins had difficulty getting Patton to understand her rights to an attorney and was questioned at length about reading the Miranda rights. He and Evenson both reported Patton cried frequently during the interview, which she gave without an attorney.

Cox focused on comments Patton had made. To Collins, she said she fired a gun like an "expert." Neighbor Barbara Stevens, herself the victim of an unrelated assault, recounted a conversation with Patton some six to nine months before the shooting. According to Stevens, Patton said she would deal with an assailant after the fact by calling him to her place under false pretenses, killing him and making it look like she had been attacked.

Carol Mae Baughman testified Patton was one of several guests at her home the night before the shooting.

"She started talking about killing Kevin," Baughman said. "She hated him. She was drunk." Patton then brought in her revolver, after which Baughman made her leave.

The day before the shooting, Madison had gone to Arkansas to visit his friend, James "Billy" Lomax. Madison spent part of the night with Lomax's female neighbor.

The next day, Patton began calling Lomax and his friend, Ethel Marie Wolfe, and asking for Madison. Patton called repeatedly, both testified. Lomax admitted finally goading Patton, suggesting Lomax was having sex with his neighbor. When Patton started yelling on the phone, Madison took the call, after previously telling Lomax to deny Madison was there.

Adam Gautney, a dairy farmer who owned property near Patton, recounted how Patton approached him, agitated and fearful, about the sound of gunfire from Gautney's property about two weeks before the shooting. Gautney explained he was practicing for a competition, which calmed Patton, who said she was afraid of being shot by someone.

Diane Madison, who had married Kevin Madison's father, described how she had tried to befriend Patton and had taken her to visit Kevin in prison. About four weeks before the shooting, Diane Madison testified she got a phone call from Patton.

"She said she had a gun. She said she was going to blow Kevin's head off if he didn't stop stalking her," Diane Madison said. "It seems she thought he was watching her."

The criminal history of those involved came into question during testimony. Evenson said a quarter-pound of marijuana was found in a cooler in Kevin Madison's truck cab when officers searched it. Lomax admitted he had a history of arrests for drunk driving. Marie Wolfe said she and Lomax had been out drinking the night they called Madison to invite him to visit them.

Photos of Patton's bruised face were shown to several witnesses. The cuts and bruises were obvious to those who had seen her before the assault and to the officers. Swabs of her bloodied face had been taken by Collins and sent to the crime lab.

In cross-examination, Lewright raised a number of questions about police techniques. Control of the crime scene passed from Officer Doug Henry, the first to arrive on the scene, to Evenson, to Sgt. Larry Walters of the Highway Patrol. The radio log did not shown when Collins arrived on the crime scene.

The case went to the jury late today. .

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