Story emerges in homicide trial

November 7, 2013
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Tara Kinsell/Observer-Reporter Jason Roe enters court on the first day of his trial for the homicide of Cordele Patterson.
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Tara Kinsell/Observer-Reporter Lana Roe steps off the elevator prior to entering the courtroom for day one of the trial against her and her husband, Jason, for the death by homicide of Cordele Patterson of Grindstone.

WAYNESBURG – A strange story has emerged in the homicide trial of Jason and Lana Roe, spouses charged in the shooting death of Cordele Edward Patterson, 38, on Aug. 14, 2012.

According to state police, Jason Roe, 35, in a statement given the evening of the shooting, said he drove Patterson to the cabin where he allegedly shot and killed him.

State Police Cpl. John Tobin, who interviewed Roe at the state police barracks in Morgantown, W.Va., the evening of the shooting, said the defendant told him he took Patterson there Aug. 13.

“He said he drove Mr. Patterson to the cabin to hide him out because Mr. Patterson was responsible for stealing his guns and he was trying to get them back (for Roe),” Tobin said. “He didn’t want Mr. Patterson arrested by police prior to getting his guns back.”

Craig Brewer, whose grandfather owns the cabin, said Roe had permission to hunt and fish at the property in Wayne Township. Brewer said he didn’t know if Roe’s family was given a key for the cabin, but said Roe’s grandparents and his grandparents lived on neighboring farms and had a longstanding friendship.

Roe told police he and his wife were going to pick up a dog at his grandparent’s house the day of the shooting and decided to stop and shoot target practice at the cabin.

“He told us he was at the cabin and did shoot Mr. Patterson and accidently shot his wife in the process,” Tobin said. “He told us it was a Mossburg 12-gauge shotgun.”

Jason Roe said his wife needed to go to the bathroom and she started to walk up the right path toward the cabin, Tobin said.

“He said he used the path to the left and came up around the cabin from the top when he observed his wife and Cordele, who was walking toward her,” Tobin said. “He said he shot two or three times in the direction of Mr. Patterson and his wife.”

There was no explanation why he started to shoot.

Tobin said Jason Roe was uphill from Lana Roe and Patterson.

“He said he went down the path, passed his wife and followed or chased Mr. Patterson into the cabin,” Tobin said. “He said he shot him in his side, spinning him around and he fell behind the futon. He said he leaned over it and fired at him again while he was still on the ground.”

Tobin said he asked Roe how Patterson was approaching Lana Roe and he said, “He was walking towards her.” When asked if Patterson had anything in his hands – any objects, Tobin said Roe told him, “No, no weapons of any kind.”

Continuing with the version Roe gave, Tobin said Roe told them after he shot Patterson the second time he observed another black male running outside of the cabin. Tobin said Roe told him he could not identify that person and wasn’t sure if he had any weapons on him.

The day after the shooting Tobin interviewed Lana Roe at the scene of the homicide. She confirmed she was walking toward the cabin to use the restroom on the day of the shooting and she was shot by her husband in the face.

Tpr. Todd Porter showed the jury Patterson’s clothing taken during an autopsy performed by forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht Aug. 15, along with photographs Porter took at the autopsy.

Porter presented two shirts with holes and tears to the left front that were worn by Patterson. He also showed the jury paper wadding found inside one of the shirts and pellets found within Patterson’s body during the autopsy.

Wecht told the jury he believed two shots were fired into Patterson. The first was fired into his left side entering through his upper arm and into his side.

Wecht said several other wounds to Patterson’s body were all associated with that shot being fired. He said the shotgun blast fractured ribs, perforated the aorta and caused other injuries. Wecht said the wound to the arm, “in and of itself would not be fatal.”

The shotgun blast to Patterson’s right neck left what Wecht called a “large gaping wound with jagged and torn edges.” He said it was roughly five inches across and close to three inches wide. This shot fractured Patterson’s windpipe, Wecht said.

“My opinion is that this was a shotgun wound fired at fairly close range. There is no evidence of pellet stippling (marks) or powder residue (on the face or neck),” he said.

The trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. today.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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