Francisca Marquinez, 60, had been dead for up to 48 hours when her boyfriend Richard Patterson, 65, called his lawyer and asked him to summon police to her home in Margate, Florida. Francisca’s body had started to decompose, and it appeared that she’d choked or been strangled. But when Patterson was charged with murder, he mounted the most bizarre defence…
It was October 2015, and Francisca Marquinez and Richard Patterson had only been dating for four months.
But after being contacted by Richard’s lawyer, officers went round to her apartment and found Francisca’s decomposing body lying face down on the bed.
They also recovered a bag filled with paper towels and tissues stained with blood and semen.
Blood was also found in the flat and on Francisca’s hand.
A post-mortem found that Francisca showed no signs of trauma.
However, her body had already begun to decompose, particularly her face and neck, making bruises difficult to detect.
It appeared that she’d been asphyxiated. But the medical examiner was unable to determine an exact cause of death.
Detectives were suspicious of Richard Patterson. Why had he waited so long to call the police?
A week later, he was charged with second-degree murder.
And, as he went on trial this May, he launched a bizarre and shocking defence.
Richard Patterson claimed Francisca had choked by accident…
On his larger-than-average penis while the couple had oral sex.
Richard’s lawyer, Ken Padowitz, sent the prosecution photos of his client’s member next to a tape measure.
Next, he applied to the judge asking if he could present Richard’s oversized penis to the jury as evidence.
‘I believe it’s relevant,’ Mr Padowitz maintained.
The defence requested Richard be allowed to strip down in front of the judge, lawyers, a bailiff and the jurors.
He added that if his motion was not successful, he’d consider having a mould made of his client’s member.
Prosecution lawyer Peter Sapak questioned the necessity – and the logistics – of showing the jury the defendant’s sex organ.
‘Do we do it in the back? Do we do it in open court?’ Mr Sapak asked.
He also claimed the defendant would need to be ‘aroused’ while presenting himself, as he likely would have been during the act itself.
‘How is the defendant going to be erect when the jury views it? Because a flaccid penis…is completely irrelevant. It needs to be erect,’ Mr Sapak said.
Francisca’s family was horrified.
‘It’s a desperate man trying a desperate tactic,’ said her son Omar Andrade, 41. ‘He’s just trying to get off the hook.’
While waiting for the judge to rule on the application, the prosecution opened their case.
They alleged Richard and Francisca had a stormy relationship, and that he’d strangled her using his hands.
A former neighbour said she’d heard the couple rowing, and that Francisca wanted to break up with Richard.
And, it emerged, instead of contacting police when his girlfriend died, Richard texted his daughter and an ex.
In a sworn statement, his ex, Holly Graff, said he texted her saying, I did something terrible. I can’t go to jail. I choked her. I choked Francisca.
A text he’d sent to his daughter was also read out.
Your dad did something really bad last night and I’m so sorry, it said.
Medical Examiner Louri Boiko testified it was unlikely for someone to die the way Richard was claiming.
‘I don’t think it’s possible,’ he told the courtroom. ‘She will kick, bite, do something to prevent the blocking of the airway. It’s the normal reaction.’
Yet he admitted he could not determine exactly how Francisca had died, as she’d been dead at least 24 – and more like 48 – hours when she was found.
However, Richard’s lawyer, Mr Padowitz, moved away from his ‘rough sex’ defence.
He claimed that as it was impossible to tell how Francisca died, his client couldn’t be found guilty.
‘My client is a handyman,’ he said. ‘He always believed that the last act he did with his girlfriend must have been why she died. He is not a doctor. He is incorrect.’
Instead, Mr Padowitz argued it was also possible Francisca had died of a heart attack or stroke.
‘This was a terrible tragedy that happened to this lady that my client was very much in love with,’ Mr Padowitz said.
He argued Richard Patterson had waited so long to report her death as he felt embarrassed by the way in which she died.
Mr Padowitz said his client was suicidal in the aftermath of his partner’s death and had taken a bottle of sleeping tablets and slept for over 24 hours next to her corpse.
The judge never ruled on the defence lawyers’ earlier motion, and Richard did not show his penis to the jury.
So, was Richard Patterson a killer who strangled his girlfriend? Or a horrified boyfriend whose girlfriend choked to death during the most intimate of sex acts?
Jurors found Richard Patterson, 65, not guilty of second-degree murder in May 2017.
Francisca’s family was outraged.
‘This is not justice,’ one relative cried out.
Yet his lawyer, Ken Padowitz, praised the jury’s verdict.
‘I think this was a courageous jury that did the right thing. They recognised the state’s case was full of holes and they had no evidence. They came back with the only verdict they could, which was not guilty,’ he said.
Francisca’s official cause of death is still undetermined.