Defendants testify in homicide trial
Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter
At left, Jason Roe enters court on the first day of his trial for the homicide of Cordele Patterson. At right, 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 – In a surprising twist, both defendants on trial in the death of Cordele Edward Patterson, 28, of Daisytown, took the stand Thursday, each telling similar stories of events prior to leaving their Daisytown residence Aug. 14, 2012, and the journey to the cabin on Strawn Hill Road in Wayne Township where Patterson was killed.
Following the testimony from Lana Kay Roe, 41, and Jason Roe, 33, the defense rested. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. today followed by Judge William Nalitz’s instruction to the jury. The 12-member panel will then begin deliberations.
Lana Kay Roe said her husband, Jason, did not sleep the evening of Aug. 13.
“Not long after I laid down (between 4 and 6 a.m.), Jason left,” she said, telling the court she believed her husband was going to his grandparent’s house to get some of his belongings. She assumed Patterson, who was with the Roes that night, had gone home.
It wasn’t until they arrived at the cabin around noon that Lana Roe said she was made aware her husband had driven Patterson there after he left. She said Jason told her to go to the cabin and get Cordele. When she went inside he was sleeping, according to Lana. She said Patterson followed her and she told him to stop for a moment because she needed to urinate and didn’t want him to see her. As Patterson continued toward her, she was hit with spray from a shotgun shell. Lana Roe said Jason ran past her and said, ‘Oh (expletive), oh (expletive), I shot you,’ but did not stop to render aid. Instead, she said, Jason Roe continued toward the cabin and she heard additional shots.
Lana Roe believed two different weapons were fired because she heard two distinct noises. Roe said she ran toward their Jeep and fired her handgun in the air in the direction of the shots to make it stop.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone,” she said.
Lana said she never saw anyone at the cabin Aug. 14 beside Patterson and her husband. She passed the residence of Jason’s grandparents as she drove to find help. She said she was traumatized and fearful, not knowing if her husband shot her on purpose, and knew he would probably go to the grandparents’ house.
“I didn’t know that he was going to kill Cordele,” she said.
Jason Roe told the jury his wife entered the cabin and stayed in it for what seemed like an odd amount of time.
“It seemed like something was wrong. Things were running through my head,” he said.
Roe said his wife had been out with Patterson in the past when he wasn’t around. He stopped short of saying he suspected anything was going on between them.
However, the jury heard an audio recording of a police interview with Robert Barber who was outside the residence Lana fled to after being shot. Barber said Roe told him she needed him to call 911 because her husband had shot her.
“She was bleeding profusely and I kept talking to her to keep her from going into shock,” Barber said. “I asked her if she got caught with another man, the man she was with, the black guy, and she said, ‘Yes.’ She said she had a PFA against her husband. I figured he had gone after the other guy.”
Jason Roe said the PFA was filed after an incident involving Patterson about a week before the shooting. He said he was at the pharmacy dropping off a camera when Lana called him to pick up a pack of cigarettes for Patterson.
“He was there working on my toilet that wasn’t broken. The Johnny Bull came out in me. I was mad,” he said.
Roe added he received a job offer in Arizona to do carpentry work and he was going to pack up and leave.
“I’d had enough of all this crap. I slapped her. I never slapped her before. I shouldn’t have slapped her. She left for a few days and filed a PFA,” he said.
The PFA expired and the Roes reunited, but not before Lana left for a few days, hiding with her daughter.
Unlike Lana Roe, who cried for much of her time on the witness stand, Jason Roe grinned and spoke matter-of-factly. During cross-examination, he became visibly angered by Assistant District Attorney Linda Chamber’s manner of questioning. When Chambers inquired about Roe’s claim on the stand that Patterson had a gun, something the court was hearing for the first time, Roe pointed at a Pennsylvania state trooper in the courtroom, accusing him of destroying a tape recording in which he supposedly told the trooper Patterson had a gun. In a video recording made by troopers in West Virginia at the time of his arrest, Roe never mentioned Patterson had a gun.
There was no evidence presented that a gun was found on or near Patterson. Gunshot residue was found on his hands but it was never established how it got there.
Jason Roe told the court he approached the cabin and saw Patterson, and then he made a gun with his hands saying that was what he saw. He said he fired a shot, striking Patterson who then went behind the futon. Roe said Patterson stood back up and he shot him again.
Chambers asked Roe, “Isn’t it true when police pulled you over in Morgantown, you didn’t say anything about Cordele having a gun?”
Roe responded, “Robbers have a gun. You don’t rob somebody if you don’t have a gun,” referring to his claim Patterson had stolen items from his residence, including weapons, on a prior occasion.
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