Toronto Patterson began selling crack cocaine and openly displayed his
gang membership when he was 15 years old.
By age 17, he developed an affinity for expensive chrome and gold
automobile wheels. Knowing that a cousin in the penetentiary stored a
BMW with such wheels at the home of Evelyn Stiff, he drove there and
visited with his cousin, Kimberly Brewer.
He left, only to return later, entering and shooting Kimberly and her
two daughters, 3 year old Ollie, and 6 year old Jennifer. All three were
shot in the head and died.
Patterson then took 3 of 4 wheels off the BMW in the garage and fled.
That same afternoon, Patterson tried to sell the stolen wheels. The
clothing that Patterson wore earlier in the day had tiny spots of blood
and was recovered, along with the wheels from Patterson's girlfriend's
Upon arrest, Patterson at first claimed that two Jamaicans actually did
the shooting. In the second statement, after he was confronted with the
fact that police had located the wheels at his girlfriend's house,
Patterson admitted that he was the one who committed the triple homicide.
At trial, Patterson recanted and claimed that the statement had been
coerced. He was tried only on charges of killing the 3-year-old. Because
the girl was under 6, Patterson was found guilty of a capital offense.
In a classic case of returning to the scene of the crime, prosecutors
scanning television coverage of the bodies being removed from the house
spotted Patterson in the video.
Six pieces of crispy fried chicken, four jalapeno peppers, four buttered
buttermilk biscuits, chef salad (with bacon bits, black olives, ham, and
Italian dressing), six Sprites, and white cake with white icing.
"I am sorry for the pain, sorry for what I caused my friends, family,
and loved ones. I feel a great deal of responsibility and guilt for what
happened. I should be punished for the crime, but I do not think I
should die for a crime I did not commit."
Texas Attorney General
Friday, Aug. 23, 2002
Toronto Patterson Scheduled to be Executed.
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers
the following information on Toronto Patterson, who is scheduled to be
executed after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2002.
On Nov. 20, 1995, Toronto Patterson was sentenced to
die for the capital murder of Ollie Brown in Dallas, Texas, on June 6,
A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows:
FACTS OF THE CRIME
Toronto Patterson began selling crack cocaine when he
was 15 years old. As a drug dealer, Patterson earned $500 to $700 a day
and developed an affinity for expensive chrome and gold or all gold
Patterson owned a car that was equipped with such
wheels, but it was stolen in April 1995. Patterson was aware that Vernon
Stiff, a cousin who was serving time in the penitentiary, stored a BMW
with expensive wheels at the home of Evelyn Stiff, Patterson's great-aunt.
On June 6, 1995, around 10 or 11a.m., Patterson left
his girlfriend's house and informed a friend that he was going to
physical therapy for a back injury. On that same day, Patterson drove
his grandmother's car to Evelyn Stiff's home and visited with Kimberly
Brewer, one of Evelyn's daughters.
After chatting with Kimberly for
about 15 minutes, Patterson went to physical therapy.
Thereafter, Patterson returned to Evelyn's house and
fatally shot Kimberly and her two children, three-year-old Ollie, and
six-year-old Jennifer, with a .38-revolver. Patterson shot Kimberly in
the head as she relaxed on a living room recliner.
He shot Jennifer in
the head as she watched cartoons and played in her bedroom. Ollie, who
was on the bed in the same room, was killed by a gunshot to the head.
Ollie also had gunshot wounds to her left hand and neck.
injuries indicated that Patterson was only three feet away when he shot
them, and Ollie's injuries were consistent with an adult standing over
her and firing downward while she cowered in the corner of the bed and
covered her ears.
After committing the murders, Patterson proceeded to
the garage, unfastened three of the wheels from the BMW, and placed them
in his grandmother's car. He was unable to unfasten the fourth wheel.
Patterson did not take any other valuable items from the house.
Around 2 or 3 p.m., Patterson returned to his
girlfriend's house looking scared and out-of-breath. He immediately
changed his clothes and explained to his friend that he had just robbed
and shot someone in an attempt to rob the person of his wheels, and that
he needed help carting three of the wheels into the house.
afternoon, Patterson tried to sell the stolen wheels to Aycock Tire and
Wheel but because he was unable to make a deal with the store manager,
he kept the wheels in his girlfriend's garage.
Police officers arrested Patterson on murder charges
the same day, and searched both Patterson's vehicle and the residence of
Patterson's girlfriend. The clothing that Patterson wore earlier in the
day had tiny spots of blood that were consistent with a blood pattern
that would result from shooting someone in the head.
On June 7, 1995, Patterson submitted two written
statements to a police detective, admitting to, and apologizing for, his
involvement in the murders. In the first statement, Patterson claimed
that he gave the stolen wheels to "two Jamaicans" who actually did the
In the second statement, after he was confronted with the fact
that police had located the wheels at his girlfriend's house, Patterson
admitted that he was the one who committed the triple homicide.
Patterson testified in his defense at trial, and presented a twist on
the "Jamaicans-made-me-do-it" story, claiming that he had nothing to do
with the murders and that his previous statements to the contrary were
On June 23, 1995, Patterson was indicted for capital
murder in the 5th Criminal District Court of Dallas County, Texas. He
pleaded "not guilty." Trial on the merits began on Nov. 10, 1995, and on
Nov. 17, 1995, the jury returned a verdict of "guilty."
separate punishment hearing, the same jury answered "yes" to the future
dangerousness special issue and found that no mitigating circumstance
warranted that Patterson be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Consequently, on Nov. 20, 1995, the trial court assessed punishment at
Patterson's conviction and sentence were
automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, but in
1999, that court affirmed in an unpublished opinion. The Supreme Court
denied certiorari review later that same year.
On Sept. 4, 1997, while his direct appeal was
pending, Patterson petitioned for state habeas relief. The trial court
recommended that relief be denied, and on Feb. 3, 1999, the Court of
Criminal Appeals adopted that recommendation after reviewing the record.
On Dec. 16, 1999, the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Texas stayed Patterson's execution to allow him to seek
federal habeas corpus relief.
Before filing his federal petition, Patterson
submitted a second state habeas petition to the Court of Criminal
Appeals on April 3, 2000.
On May 3, 2000, the Court of Criminal Appeals
dismissed that successive petition as an abuse of the writ.
On Oct. 4, 2000, Patterson applied for federal habeas
relief in the district court. On Aug. 17, 2001, that court issued a
final order denying relief, and also denied Patterson's request for a
certificate of appealability. On Feb. 26, 2002, the Fifth Circuit Court
of Appeals denied Patterson's request for a certificate of
On June 28, 2002, the Supreme Court denied
Patterson's petition for certiorari to the Fifth Circuit. On or about
July 29, 2002, Patterson filed a third state writ in the Court of
Criminal Appeals, which was dismissed as an abuse of the writ on Aug.
Patterson has informed the Supreme Court that he
intends to file both an original writ and another certiorari petition by
Friday, Aug. 23, 2002.
Patterson belonged to a gang when he was a high
school sophomore, he wore his gang colors to school, carried a beeper,
defied authority, and failed to attend his classes. Patterson threatened
to kill school authorities when they confiscated his beeper, and dropped
out of high school during his sophomore year.
The year before the murders, Patterson possessed a
.38 handgun and a 9 mm handgun. That same year, he fired a "Mac 12" gun
at one of his friends. On Sept. 6, 1994, after police officers found a
loaded 9 mm handgun in Patterson's vehicle during a routine traffic
stop, Patterson was charged as a juvenile for unlawful weapon possession.
The case was ultimately dismissed.
Patterson was also a drug dealer and stole money from
a drug customer on at least two occasions. On March 10 and March 12,
1994, Patterson sold cocaine to an undercover FBI informant in an area
of Dallas that was heavily occupied by gang members.
Three justices question execution
Rare dissent urges high court to revisit death
CNN Law Center
August 30, 2002
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a rare public
dissent on a request for a stay of execution, three U.S. Supreme
Court justices -- unable to halt the Wednesday night execution of a
convicted Texas killer who was a juvenile when the murder occurred
-- are challenging the use of the death penalty in such cases.
Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and
Stephen Breyer issued statements before Toronto Patterson, 24, was put
to death in Huntsville, Texas, by lethal injection. A Supreme Court
majority late Wednesday allowed Texas prison officials to proceed.
Patterson was 17 when he was arrested in connection
with the slayings of a 25-year-old woman and her children, ages 6 and 3.
Patterson insisted he was innocent.
Death penalty foes are campaigning to end the
execution of individuals convicted of committing heinous crimes as
juveniles. They argue that the youths may have been too immature to
understand the gravity of their actions.
In his statement, Stevens made clear he agrees with
that position. Stevens was among four dissenters in a 1989 Supreme Court
ruling that states may execute juvenile offenders.
"I joined that [dissenting] opinion and remain
convinced that it correctly interpreted the law," Stevens said of the
Stanford v. Kentucky decision.
"Given the apparent consensus that exists among the
states and in the international community against the execution of a
capital sentence imposed on a juvenile offender, I think it would be
appropriate for the court to revisit the issue at the earliest
Joined by Breyer, Ginsburg issued a separate brief
statement saying it is time to reconsider juvenile executions in light
of the high court's ruling last term that declared the execution of
mentally retarded killers unconstitutional.
"I think it appropriate to revisit the issue at this
time," Ginsburg said.
Many death penalty supporters deny a national
consensus exists against executing juvenile offenders.
Of the 38 states with the death penalty, 22 allow the
execution of offenders who committed capital crimes at 17. Of those
states, 17 also allow the execution of offenders who committed capital
crimes at 16.
Toronto Patterson was 17 when he killed his cousin's
3-year-old daughter for three chrome and gold wheels on June 6, 1995.
According to court records, Kimberly Brewer was found dead from gunshot
wounds in her den, and her daughters - 6-year-old Jennifer and Ollie -
had been slain in the room which they shared.
The only things missing
from the house were 3 chrome and gold car wheels from Kimberly's
brother's BMW, which was parked in the garage.
Patterson had visited his
cousin, Kimberly, and had returned to his girlfriend's house in a panic
saying he just stole 3 wheels, documents showed.
Patterson, in a written
confession, stated that he killed all 3, adding that he walked into the
children's room and fired twice with his eyes closed.
The courts ruled
that the evidence - including the facts that the victims were killed in
relaxed positions as though by someone they trusted and that Patterson
was known to like fancy wheels - was sufficient. He was tried only on
charges of killing the 3-year-old. Because the girl was under 6,
Patterson was found guilty of a capital offense.
Toronto Markkey Patterson
Toronto Markkey Patterson, 24, was executed by lethal
injection on 28 August in Huntsville, Texas for killing his cousin and
her two children in their home.
In June 1995, someone entered the home of Evelyn
Stiff and shot three people to death. Kimberly Brewer, Stiff's 25-year-old
daughter, was shot in the living room as she was lying on a recliner.
Brewer's six-year-old daughter, Jennifer, was shot on the floor of her
bedroom. Brewer's other daughter, Ollie, 3, was shot in her bed in the
same room as Jennifer. All three victims were shot in the head with a
.38-caliber weapon. Ollie, who died with her hands covering her ears,
was also shot in the hand and neck. Three chrome and gold wheel rims
were also stolen from a BMW stored in Stiff's garage.
Toronto Patterson, 17, had been dealing drugs since
he was 15. He was known for wearing expensive jewelry and clothing and
driving expensive cars. He once owned a car with expensive gold and
chrome wheel rims, but in April, it was stolen. He knew that his cousin,
Vernon Stiff, owned a BMW with expensive wheels. He also knew that Stiff
was serving time in the penitentiary, and he was storing his car in his
On the morning of the murders, Patterson left his
live-in girlfriend's house and told her that he was going to receive
physical therapy for a back injury. About four hours later, Patterson
returned home. He changed his clothes and told his girlfriend that he
had shot someone and stolen their wheel rims. That afternoon, he took
the wheels from Vernon Stiff's car, which were worth around $2,000, to a
dealer, but did not sell them. Later that day, when police and news
crews were at the murder scene, Patterson and his girlfriend went there
to observe what was going on.
Patterson was arrested that evening. The next day, he
gave two written confessions to police. In the fist confession, he
admitted stealing the wheels, but claimed that he gave them to Jamaican
drug dealers, who committed the murders. When Patterson was informed
that the stolen rims were found at his girlfriend's house, he gave
another confession, in which he also admitted to the murders.
At his trial, Patterson pleaded not guilty. He
testified that he had nothing to do with the murders, which he said were
committed by Jamaican drug dealers. He testified that his confessions
were coerced by police.
As evidence, prosecutors presented the wheel
rims, which had Patterson's fingerprints on them, and the clothing found
at his girlfriend's house, which had spots of blood from the victims on
it. Prosecutors also showed a video of the television news coverage when
the bodies were being removed from the house. Patterson and his
girlfriend are seen in the background, watching.
Prosecutors also presented evidence that Patterson
belonged to a gang in high school, and that he once threatened to kill
school authorities when they confiscated his beeper. He dropped out of
high school during his sophomore year. In 1994, at age 16, he was
charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, a loaded 9mm handgun that
was found in his car during a routine traffic stop. He also once sold
cocaine to an undercover FBI informant.
A jury convicted Patterson of the capital murder of
Ollie Smith in November 1995 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court
of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence on direct
appeal in January 1999. Patterson's lawyers initiated some of his habeas
corpus appeals while his direct appeal was still pending. All of his
appeals in state and federal court were denied.
Patterson, known in prison as "Tonto," maintained his
innocence in a death-row interview. He said that his confession was
coerced and his request to see an attorney was denied. "I was in that
room so long and didn't know which way was up. [The detective] was
telling me what I did. The way he said I was going to be able to talk to
someone ... was once I told him what he wanted to hear ... So, I told
him, so I would be able to go to the judge and let him know how he did
me in that room and stuff. But I found out later, it wasn't like that."
Patterson said that he started selling drugs because
"I wanted to kind of keep up, be accepted. By just keeping up with the
everyday fad, I would be accepted -- clothes, hairstyles, jewelry,
whatever. I started selling drugs to keep up." Patterson's girlfriend
was pregnant at the time of his arrest. She gave birth to a daughter,
who Patterson saw only once, across the glass at a visitation session.
Two days prior to Patterson's execution, the Texas
Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 16-1 against commuting his sentence
to life in prison. The parole board also voted 17-0 against granting a
stay of execution. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal by a 6-3
"I am sorry for the pain, sorry for what I caused my
friends, family, and loved ones," Patterson said in his last statement.
"I feel a great deal of responsibility and guilt for what happened. I
should be punished for the crime, but I do not think I should die for a
crime I did not commit," he said. He continued with his last statement,
asking for forgiveness and expressing love to his family. Afterward, the
lethal injection was started. Patterson was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m.
Death Row Inmate Toronto Patterson Executed
August 28, 2002
HUNTSVILLE -- Apologetic but maintaining his
innocence, a former teenage drug dealer was executed this evening for
killing a 3-year-old cousin at her Dallas home -- one of three relatives
gunned down -- so he could steal some fancy car wheels.
"I am sorry for the pain, sorry for what I caused my
friends, family and loved ones," Toronto Patterson, now 24, said while
strapped to the death chamber gurney. "I feel a great deal of
responsibility and guilt for what happened. "I should be punished for
the crime, but I do not think I should die for a crime I did not commit."
Patterson said that while he was sorry, nothing could bring back the
victims. He prayed his death would bring peace and unite his family. "I
ask for your forgiveness and that you will all forgive me," he said. "I
invite you all to my funeral. We are still family." As the drugs began
taking effect, Patterson exhaled and then gasped. Nine minutes later at
6:20 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead.
Patterson was 17 when he was arrested for the fatal
shootings of Ollie Brown, 3; her sister, Jennifer, 6; and their mother,
Kimberly Brewer, 25.
His age at the time of the slayings renewed criticism
of capital punishment for teenagers from death penalty opponents. Two
other condemned killers were executed in Texas -- one three weeks ago
and another in May -- for crimes committed when they were 17.
execution critics referred to them as juveniles, under the law in Texas
and at least 21 other states they were adults. "If the age was 18, then
the 18-year-olds would be someone complained about; if it was 19, it
would be the 19-year-olds," said Jason January, who was among
Patterson's prosecutors and witnessed the execution at the request of
relatives of the slaying victims. "If someone wants to be worried about
the execution of juveniles, they should have worried about it when
Toronto was filling Ollie, 3 years old, full of holes, and Jennifer,
full of holes. Not just one shot, but multiple shots."
Patterson was the 23rd Texas inmate executed this
year and the fifth this month. Five more are scheduled to die in
September. "I'm scared, but being here, seeing so many other people with
dates dying, and how everything gets in motion, I pretty much seen how
things are going to go. I guess you'd say -- something like a routine,"
Patterson said in an interview last week on death row, where he is known
Patterson was the 13th Texas inmate and the 21st in
the United States put to death since 1976 for a murder committed when
the killer was younger than 18.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles earlier this
week refused requests for a reprieve or for clemency. Patterson's
attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, contending his punishment,
because of his age at the time of the crime, would be unconstitutional
cruel and unusual punishment.
About two hours before his scheduled
execution time, the high court, in a 6-3 vote, rejected his appeal.
"Such executions not only violate international norms, they also offend
human decency," said Steven Hawkins, executive director of the National
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "The mind of a juvenile offender
is by definition less developed than the mind of an adult." Not so, said
George West, one of the Dallas County district attorneys who prosecuted
Patterson. "The stated age of an individual is one thing, their maturity
and experience is another," West said. "And this guy wasn't a dummy."
Evidence showed Patterson went to the home of his
great-aunt on June 6, 1995, so he could steal the chrome wheels from a
BMW stored there. Similar wheels on his own car had been stolen. Armed
with a .38-caliber pistol, prosecutors said he shot Brewer, his cousin
and his great-aunt's daughter, as she was seated in a recliner.
moved on to the children, shooting the 6-year-old as she watched
cartoons on television, and the 3-year-old as she cowered in a corner of
the room, her hands over her ears. "It was extremely sad," West said
this week. "The only person who could stop him physically was Kimberly,
the woman... But what does he do? He decides: 'I've got to eliminate
eyewitnesses because that means I could try to increase my odds of not
getting caught. So I eliminate the two kids who know me.' "No question
about thought processes there," West added. "There was no need to kill
the kids otherwise."
Authorities said he then took three rims from the car
but was unable to remove the fourth. His fingerprints were found on the
rims, left at his girlfriend's house. His bloody clothing was traced to
the victims. He told his girlfriend he had robbed and shot someone. He
was arrested the following day. Police saw him in news footage in the
crowd outside his cousins' house as the bodies were being removed. He
was not grieving, prosecutors recalled.
In testimony at his trial and in interviews, he
blamed the deaths on unnamed "Jamaicans." "I wasn't there when the
shootings occurred," he said last week. "It was a hokey story," said
January. "We were very very confident we got the right man."
Dallas Man Convicted of Murder at 17 Set to Die
Michael Graczyk - Dallas Morning News
AP - August 27, 2002
HUNTSVILLE, Texas — For the second time this month —
and third this year — a Texas inmate who was 17 when he was arrested for
capital murder is set to be put to death, prompting criticism again from
death penalty opponents about executing teenage offenders.
Toronto Patterson, now 24, faced lethal injection Wednesday evening for the
fatal shooting of a 3-year-old cousin — one of three relatives gunned
down in 1995 in Dallas.
Prosecutors said Patterson, who quit school after the
ninth grade because he was making a lucrative living dealing drugs in
Dallas, killed Ollie Brown; her sister, Jennifer, 6; and their mother,
Kimberly Brewer, 25, so he could steal the expensive custom chrome
wheels from a BMW car parked in the garage of their home. In 1995 in
Dallas, at least nine people were killed for the fancy wheels, which
could cost as much as $4,500 a set.
In Patterson's case, he was able to
get only three of the four wheels off the car. "Not only was he a killer,
he was an ineffective burglar," said Jason January, who was an assistant
district attorney in Dallas County and among the prosecutors in the
Patterson, arrested a day after the June 6, 1995,
shootings after the wheels were found at his girlfriend's house, gave
numerous versions of the slayings, ranging from no involvement to being
at the scene. He always, however, has blamed unnamed "Jamaicans" for the
In an interview last week on death row, where he is
known as "Tonto," Patterson said he was at the east Dallas home the day
of the shootings, but "I wasn't there when they were killed." "I think
it's not fair because I did not kill anyone," he said of his punishment.
"I'm sorry for the pain I've my family but beyond that, no comment." "He
told one of his friends that he just 'jacked' somebody," George West,
another prosecutor in the case, said this week. "He had taken the rims
to his girlfriend's house. They matched the ones on the car."
In a classic case of returning to the scene of the
crime, prosecutors scanning television coverage of the bodies being
removed from the house spotted Patterson in the video. "Lo and behold,
there's Tonto and the girlfriend just hanging back in the crowd checking
it out," January said. "We were shocked to see it. There's his own
family and he's not going up to comfort anybody. He's just lurking in
Steven Hawkins, executive director of the National
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said Patterson, who he
characterized as a juvenile, could not handle "social pressure,
instinctual urges and other stresses the way that adult minds do.
"Juvenile offenders therefore cannot be held to the same degree of
culpability as adults, just as mentally retarded people cannot be held
to the same degree of culpability." But according to Texas law, and the
law in at least 21 other states, Patterson at age 17 was an adult and
eligible for the death penalty.
Patterson's lawyers had appeals pending before the
U.S. Supreme Court, contending his execution would be unconstitutional
cruel and unusual punishment. As it has in the past, the European Union,
through the Danish Embassy, and Amnesty International USA, which oppose
capital punishment in all cases, urged Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas
Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute the sentence to life or grant a
The parole board on Monday voted 17-0 against
recommending a reprieve and 16-1 against recommending commutation. In
May, Texas inmate Napoleon Beazley was executed for a carjacking slaying
in Tyler in 1994 when he was 17. "I figured then I'd soon be dead," said
Patterson, who was friends with Beazley on death row.
Then earlier this month, T.J. Jones, condemned for a
carjacking slaying in Longview in 1994 when he was 17, was put to death
after asking no additional appeals be made to spare him. Jones became
the 12th Texas inmate and the 20th in the United States put to death
since 1976 for a murder committed when the killer was younger than 18.
For the year, Patterson would be the 23rd condemned prisoner executed in
Texas and fifth this month.
Life on death row for Patterson has been a far cry
from hustling drugs on the streets of Dallas, where since the age of 15
he said he was making hundreds or even more than a thousand dollars a
day, buying fancy clothes "and a lot of stuff I wasn't able to enjoy
when I was younger."
When he was arrested, a girlfriend was pregnant,
and their child was born after he was in custody. The first and only
time he's seen his daughter, now 6, was in May when the child's mother
brought her briefly to the death row visiting area, where inmates behind
glass speak with visitors on telephones. "I'd give my life just to hug
and kiss her once," the convicted child-killer said.
Toronto Markkey Patterson
Action Issued: 31 July 2002 - USA (Texas)
Toronto Patterson (m), black, aged 24, is scheduled
to be executed in Texas on 28 August for a murder committed when he was
aged 17. International law, respected in almost every country of the
world except the USA, prohibits the death penalty against people who
were under 18 at the time of the crime.
The following day it was discovered that a
car at the house had had its wheels stolen.
The car belonged to Vernon
Stiff, an older cousin of Toronto Patterson who had introduced the
teenager to drug dealing in 1993 as a way for Patterson to be able to
afford school clothes and supplies. Police arrested Toronto Patterson
after they learned that he had a penchant for expensive car wheels, that
his had been stolen a short while before, and that he had visited the
victims’ home on the day of the murders.
Without a lawyer present, Toronto Patterson gave
police a statement in which he admitted to being at the scene of the
crime with two Jamaican drug dealers (whose existence was later verified
by a trial witness), but did not admit to the murders themselves.
aggressive interrogation followed, during which Toronto Patterson
allegedly asked for a lawyer and for the interrogation to be recorded.
After being held incommunicado for over four hours, Toronto Patterson
confessed to the shootings: “I’m sorry for what I have done to my family
and friends. I confess to Detective Wig that I want y’all to know that I
love y’all and I didn’t want nothing to happen to me, nor family or
friends. I can be rehabilitated. This is the hardest situation I have
ever been in dealing with the Jamaicans. I will never do it again”.
In a completely separate case in Dallas a month
later, 21-year-old Michael Martinez was arrested and charged with
capital murder. He confessed to the same police officer, who apparently
used the same techniques he had employed in Toronto Patterson’s case.
Martinez’s confession was false, and he was later exonerated.
Patterson’s jury was not allowed to hear Martinez’s testimony to weigh
against Patterson’s claim that his confession had been coerced and that
he was innocent of the murders. Over the years in the USA, several
prisoners who confessed to the crimes which put them on death row have
been released after evidence of their innocence emerged.
The US Supreme Court said in 1982 that “the
chronological age of a minor is itself a relevant mitigating factor of
great weight”. Nevertheless, Toronto Patterson’s trial lawyers did not
present the jury with expert or any other evidence about age as a
The lawyers also failed to present substantial
evidence of Toronto Patterson’s abusive and deprived childhood. From an
early age he was exposed to drugs, alcohol and violence in his home and
the community. His mother used to beat him; sometimes using electric
cords and sticks.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals then appointed a
lawyer to represent Toronto Patterson for his appeals. This lawyer had
never handled such an appeal. The one he filed for Toronto Patterson was
six pages long.
Such appeals filed by adequately funded, experienced
lawyers can be expected to run to 150 pages because of the number of
issues raised and the complexity of the law. Toronto Patterson’s appeal
did not challenge his trial lawyer’s failure to investigate and present
the above mitigating issues. Because they were not raised in the state
courts, such issues have been lost to review by the federal courts.
Toronto Patterson was born less than two weeks after
the USA signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR) in 1977, and he was sentenced to death three years after the USA
ratified the treaty in 1992. Article 6(5) prohibits the use of the death
penalty against people who were under 18 at the time of the crime; a
prohibition which stems from recognition of a young person’s immaturity,
impulsiveness, vulnerability to peer pressure, and capacity for
rehabilitation. Since 1990, the Convention on the Rights of the Child,
which carries the same prohibition, has been ratified by 191 countries;
all but the USA and Somalia.
When the USA ratified the ICCPR, it filed a
“reservation” purporting to exempt it from the prohibition on the
execution on child offenders.
The Human Rights Committee, the expert
body established by the ICCPR to oversee implementation of the treaty,
has stated that the reservation is invalid and should be withdrawn. It
has confirmed that the prohibition cannot be derogated from, even in
times of emergency, and has “deplored” the USA’s continuing execution of
Since 1998, there have been 15 executions of child
offenders documented worldwide, 10 in the USA (six in Texas). Yemen and
Pakistan, two of the six other countries reported to have executed child
offenders since 1990, have since abolished such use of the death penalty.
It was recently reported that 74 child offenders who had remained on
death row in Pakistan have had their death sentences commuted. Another
of the six countries, Democratic Republic of Congo, commuted the death
sentences of five child offenders in 2001.
Canadian Coalition to Abolish the
Juvenile Offender Texecuted August 28, 2002 Toronto
maintained his innocence right until the end.
"I feel a great deal of responsibility and guilt for
I should be punished for the crime, but I do not think I should die for
I did not commit...I ask for your forgiveness and that you will all
I invite you all to my funeral. We are still family..." - From Toronto's
PEN PAL REQUEST :
To Whom It May Concern: I am interested in having a
pen pal. I am a young I consider myself as being a kind,smart and
intelligent young man, Who enjoys learning, reading, and writing. My
hobbies are drawing, writing poems, and craftwork. In my spare time I
play all sorts of little sports around here, games and watch TV. I was
born a Baptist and I believe in God,I can't just say I am a Christian
because there are a lot of things I should be doing but don't, but I do
have faith, pray, and read my Bible from time to time. I am a believer.
With me being on death row I do believe that one day I will be off, but
without adequate legal representation, that task will be very rough,
risky, and better yet a long shot. So therefore I have begun writing a
book hoping to generate some funds of some matter which could be used to
help save my life. I will highly appreciate some sincere friendship and
someone who is willing to help or assist in this quest.
An execution date has been set for Toronto Patterson,
for August 28, 2002
June 7, 1995, at the tender age of (17), I was
arrested in Dallas, Texas on the charge of Capital Murder. Before the
year was out, I was tried,convicted, and shipped off to this madhouse
known to us as; Texas Death Row. While I was trying to adjust to my new
environment, politicians were passing laws that would speed up the
process in which they execute.
In light of this, I, like many other death row
inmates were forced to aggressively seek assistance from friends and
family. But being new to death row, it was nearly impossible to organize
friends I didn't have. Therefore, today I am still in search of sincere
friendship. Perhaps this quest will be never ending.
Outside of my need to establish friendship, I've
begun entertainging thoughts of creating a defense fund for t he purpose
of obtaining adequete legal representation. Yet, I must also come up
with creative ways to generate funds. Therefore, I have begunto write a
book as a means to generate some kind of funds.
With these words, however brief and however
unorganized, I hope to receive letters of support from any and everyone
who may be concerned. In Struggle! - Toronto Patterson.
Toronto Patterson Homepage
THE KILLING ON TEENS - TORONTO PATTERSON
Juvenile Offender Facing Execution in Texas
Execution Date: August 28, 2002.
The debate in the US regarding the general
application of the death penalty continues, but the issues surrounding
the execution of juveniles (those persons below the age of 18 at the
time of the crime) attract intense debate. As of December 2001,
approximately 82 juveniles sit on death rows around the United States (US).
Toronto Patterson, who was just 17 years of age at the time of his
offense, may soon face execution in Texas. The execution of Toronto
would be contrary to not only American standards of justice, fairness,
and decency, but also would be in contravention of international law and
fundamental standards of human rights.
CASE TALKING POINTS
On June 6, 1995, Valarie Brewer discovered the body
of her sister, Kimberly, in a recliner in front of the television set.
In a bedroom of the house, the bodies of Kimberly's daughters, six-year-old
Jennifer Brewer, and three-year-old Ollie Brown were discovered.
were no valuables taken from the house. Upon searching the garage, three
of the four wheels on the BMW automobile belonging to Valarie's brother
were found missing. It was apparent someone had tried, unsuccessfully,
to remove the fourth wheel.
Aware her cousin, Toronto Patterson,
recently had his own wheels stolen, Valarie immediately thought of him
as a suspect and informed the police.
Patterson told police that two
Jamaican men had threatened him and his girlfriend, forcing him at
gunpoint, to assist one of the men in removing the wheels from the BMW,
while the other man distracted Kimberly. Toronto continues to maintain
this account of events, asserting that he was not the person responsible
for the murders. The identity of the killer was a hotly contested issue
at the trial.
With the support of his grandmother, Toronto
Patterson was raised by his teenage mother. He proved to be a promising
student when he was in grade school. However, his home-life became
increasingly erratic. Toronto Patterson took the brunt of his mother's
frustration in the form of whippings.
Drug and alcohol abuse were
pervasive within Toronto's world--it was an accepted way of life. Even
though drugs and gangs surrounded Toronto, he never became a gang member
or used drugs.
When Toronto was nine years of age, his baby sister,
Kenisha, was born. She suffered from a serious brain defect. Toronto was
left to care for her and became increasingly fond of his sister who died
just before the age of two. Kenisha's death deeply impacted Toronto.
Despite, his troubled home-life, Toronto still achieved in school,
receiving grades that placed him on the honor roll. However, in order to
provide even the most basic of necessities Toronto began to sell drugs
for his cousin. The selling increased and his school attendance fell,
until he dropped out of the school system.
In spite of the profound
neglect and abuse, many positive aspects of Toronto Patterson's
personality were preserved. An examination of his social history and
background would have revealed a more human face, but regrettably, the
jury was never given the opportunity to know and maybe to understand the
real Toronto Patterson.
Patterson's Confession Was Extracted by Questionable
Interrogation Tactics that were Withheld From the Jury
Toronto Patterson was taken into custody, placed in a
small interrogation room and left to wait for half an hour. When the
detective first entered the room, he was friendly and Toronto testified
that he felt he could trust him. He admitted to being scared because he
had never before been interrogated by a police officer.
Toronto gave the
detective a statement in which he admitted his presence at the crime
scene, but not to the murders themselves. Shortly thereafter, the
detective re-entered the room after consulting with another officer and
began to shout.
Forcing Toronto to sit in the corner of the room, the
detective spat in his face and accused him of lying in his first
statement. He falsely told Toronto that he had recovered the murder
weapon and the Dayton wheels. The detective then described the murder
scene to Toronto, which he states was the first time he had heard
details of the shootings.
The detective accused Patterson of killing his
three cousins and then punched and pushed him with his finger in various
places to illustrate where the victims had been shot. These accusations
persisted for half an hour.
At one point, the detective's beeper went
off and after looking at the display, he again misleadingly informed
Toronto that his fingerprints had been found on the murder weapon.
Toronto was held incommunicado for over four hours, scared and confused.
Toronto Patterson signed a statement in which he admitted to shooting
his cousin, Kimberly, and then shooting into her children's room with
his eyes closed.
The detective denied punching Toronto in the head and
forcing him into a corner of the room during the interrogation. He did
admit that he had been trained to make a suspect uncomfortable during an
The homicide detective who interrogated Toronto has a
history of using questionable tactics to extract confessions in high
profile crimes. One month after Patterson's interrogation, but before
the trial, the detective was involved in the interrogation of another
capital murder investigation, that of Michael Martinez. After taking
Martinez's initial statement, the detective obtained two subsequent
Between statements, the detective confronted Martinez with
"new facts" and told him, "We know you are lying." He threatened to
charge Martinez' girlfriend unless he signed the subsequent statements.
Another individual was ultimately charged with the capital murder to
which the detective had compelled Martinez to confess. The evidence of
the detective's coercive interrogation tactics in the Martinez case was
excluded at Toronto's trial.
Executing Juvenile Offenders Runs Counter to Basic
American Standards of Decency and Fairness
The execution of a juvenile offender is contrary to
fundamental principles of American justice, which punishes according to
the degree of culpability and reserves the death penalty only for the
most serious offenders.
By their very nature, teenagers are less mature,
and therefore less culpable than adults. Adolescence is a transitional
period of life when cognitive abilities, emotions, judgment, impulse
control, and identity are still developing. Indeed, immaturity is the
reason we do not allow those under eighteen to assume the major
responsibilities of adulthood such as military combat service, voting,
entering into contracts, drinking alcohol or making medical decisions.
A number of organizations including, the American Bar Association, the
Child Welfare League of America, the Children's Defense Fund, and the
National Mental Heath Association urge that the execution for a crime
committed while a juvenile is simply unacceptable in a civilized
Executing Juvenile Offenders is Contrary to
The execution of child offenders is not only contrary
to principles of American justice, but is also in contravention of
international law and fundamental standards of human rights.
ultimate goal of the international community is to abolish the death
penalty under all circumstances, however, until that time there are
restrictions on the categories of persons who can be executed, juveniles
being one of the restricted categories. The prohibition of the execution
of juveniles is referenced in a number of international treaties,
declarations, and statements by international bodies, in addition to the
laws of the majority of nations.
The execution of juveniles is expressly
forbidden in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR), Article 6(5), the American Convention on Human Rights, Chapter
2, Article 4, Section 5, the Geneva Convention Relative to the
Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Article 68 and the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Article 37.
In continuing to execute juveniles, the United States
acts in defiance of substantial international consensus and law. Indeed,
the US stands virtually alone in this practice. Since 1990, only seven
countries have reportedly executed juveniles: Iran, Saudi Arabia,
Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Yemen, Pakistan and the
In the last three years the small number of nations known
to have executed child offenders has further declined to only three: the
DRC, Iran and the United States. In 1994, Yemen changed its law to
prohibit the execution of juveniles.
The Nigerian government asserted to
the UN Sub-Commission that the execution, which took place in 1997 was
not of a juvenile and Saudi Arabia emphatically denies the 1992
execution of a juvenile. In July 2000, Pakistan moved to outlaw such
executions under the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance signed on 1 July
2000, and in December 1999, the DRC called for a moratorium on all
However, in January 2000, a 14 year-old child soldier was
executed in the DRC. Since that time, according to OMCT-World
Organization Against Torture, four juvenile offenders sentenced to death
in the DRC in a military court were granted stays and the sentences were
commuted following an appeal from the international community.
It is unmistakable that beyond the borders of the
United States, the application of the death penalty for child offenders
is rapidly advancing towards total abolition. Of the six countries,
other than the US, that have reportedly executed juvenile offenders, all
have either changed their laws or the governments have denied that the
executions took place.
Toronto Patterson was convicted of capital murder in
Dallas in November of 1995. The conviction was affirmed on direct appeal
in January of 1999. The following month, in February of 1999, the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals also denied Toronto relief in his state post-conviction
application for writ of habeas corpus.
In October of 1999, the United
States Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari following
Patterson's direct appeal. The convicting court immediately set an
execution date for February 24, 2000. However, on December 16, 1999, the
federal district court in Dallas stayed Patterson's execution pending
litigation of his federal petition for writ of habeas corpus.
Patterson filed his federal petition on October 4,
1999. In August of 2001, however, the federal district court denied
relief, and, in September, denied Patterson's application for
certificate of appealability. Patterson filed an application for
certificate of appealability and brief in support in the United States
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in November of 2001. The Attorney General
was recently granted an extension of time to respond to Patterson's
appellate brief until January 11, 2002.