Can Patterson be charged with murder if no body is found? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock


Can Patterson be charged with murder if no body is found?

Judge Rusty Ladd Judge Rusty Ladd

By Tiffany Pelt - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The man charged with the murders of two Lubbock State School workers is now behind bars at the Lubbock County Jail and is awaiting arraignment there.

Mickey Patterson, 59 was transferred Sunday afternoon from Bend, Oregon back to the hub city for the murder of Kay Harrelson and the suspected murder of Peggy Merimon back in 2006. 

Kay Harrelson's body was found 11 days after her disappearance, but the question remains - where is Peggy Merimon. That raises a second question - how can Patterson face murder charges for Merimon's death if her body hasn't been found?

County Court at Law Judge Rusty Ladd has been in this situation before back in 1991. Ladd was the prosecutor against Leisha Hamilton for the murder of Roger Scott Dunn. His body was never discovered, but Hamilton was still found guilty. "The fact you don't have a body, you may not have a weapon, and may not have any eye witnesses does not mean there's no evidence," said Ladd.

Judge Ladd says in these rare circumstances it's all about the evidence that is found, and relying on details. "Usually there's more attention you have to give to details. Scott Dunn's case was a very highly detail oriented prosecution. There were really a lot of individual pieces that had to be woven together," said Ladd.

For Patterson to be proven guilty for Merimon's death, Judge Ladd says certain steps have to be taken. "You have to prove the death occurred and who it was, then who did it. You have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, for the fact the body hasn't been found does not keep you from being able to do that," said Ladd.

Judge Ladd says cases like these are more complicated but not impossible to prove. "If you had a law that said if a person successfully disposes of a body, you can never try them for homicide, that would be unreasonable and unacceptable," said Ladd.

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Mickey Patterson brought back to Lubbock

An accused killer is back in Lubbock following more than three years of his alleged crime. Authorities transported Mickey Patterson from Oregon to Lubbock where he arrived Sunday afternoon. 

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