Father gets 15 years to life for child’s death | TheUnion.com

Father gets 15 years to life for child’s death

A man twice convicted of murdering his daughter in 1993 near Truckee was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison.

Mitchell A. Patterson, 44, of Lincoln has already served seven years and will be eligible for parole in March 2003.

A Nevada County Superior Court jury in November convicted him of second-degree murder for carrying his daughter into Interstate 80 traffic, where she was struck and killed by a big rig.

That was Patterson’s second trial.

The first time, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life, with no parole eligibility until 2009.

But he was granted a new trial by a federal court that ruled jurors had received illegal instructions before deciding a verdict, which preceded separate deliberations on whether Patterson was sane.

In the first trial, jurors deadlocked on whether Patterson was sane, and a later jury concluded he was.

Friday’s sentence came as no surprise to lawyers on both sides.

Beforehand, Deputy Public Defender David Humphreys sought a delay so Patterson could undergo a 90-day diagnostic examination by the state Department of Corrections.

The exam would help explain why Patterson stopped receiving psychiatric medication in prison, and perhaps determine if he was amenable to probation, Humphreys said.

In response, Deputy District Attorney Chuck O’Rourke said such exams are only to help decide if a convict is suitable for prison, and it is impossible for Patterson to receive probation for murder.

Judge John Darlington, who presided over both trials, rejected Humphreys’ request and imposed the sentence.

Later, Humphreys said the conviction would likely be appealed again, this time because Darlington didn’t allow another sanity phase at trial.

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