Texas oilman seeks appeal after love triangle murder conviction

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 20, 2015 6:35 PM

By Marice Richter

FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) - A 68-year-old oilman involved in a love triangle plans to appeal his life sentence for the shooting death of the ex-husband of his wealthy heiress girlfriend, the man's attorney said on Friday.

A Fort Worth jury on Thursday convicted Johnny Patton Jr. of murder and then deliberated for 30 minutes before sentencing him to life in prison for fatally shooting Richard Slatkin, then 66, in October 2013.

Slatkin was shot in the chest outside the home of Catherine Slatkin, 32, granddaughter of the co-founder of Fort Worth-based Alcon, producer of eye care products.

Patton said he shot Slatkin in self-defense because Slatkin threatened to kill him, his lawyer said.

"We don’t agree with the jury's verdict," said Alex Tandy, Patton’s attorney. “Mr. Patton was on the phone with 911, reporting being threatened when the shot was fired.”

But prosecutors argued that Patton had set up an elaborate scheme of repeatedly calling 911 to make it appear that he was being threatened.

"He is an absolute liar," prosecutor Eric Nickols said in an interview with Reuters on Friday.

Nickols said one 911 emergency recording made around the time of the shooting detected the sound of a revving car engine, suggesting that Patton was in the car and not at the scene of the shooting, where he claimed was being threatened by Slatkin.

“Patton went hunting and gunned him down,” Nickols said.

Witnesses testified that Patton was abusive to his estranged wife and always carried a gun.

Nickols said Patton was jealous of Richard Slatkin, a private investigator, because he was aware that Catherine Slatkin had continued a romantic relationship with her ex-husband while she was involved with him.

Catherine Slatkin testified to having an affair with Patton’s son, Jason, and gave birth to his child, according to reports from the court in local media. The affair with Jason Patton led to the Slatkins’ divorce in May 2014.

Jason Patton was later convicted on drug charges and sent to prison.

“Patton stole Catherine from his son and killed Richard Slatkin because he was a rival for her affection,” Nickols said.

(Reporting by Marice Richter; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Dan Grebler)