Jury recommends life for man in 3 Mo. deaths

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — The jury that found Ryan Patterson guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of a southeast Missouri woman, her son and unborn child also recommended life in prison, leaving relatives of the victims to wonder why they didn’t opt for the death penalty.

Patterson was convicted Thursday of killing Jamie Lynn Orman, 15-year-old Derrick Orman and the unborn child at a Cape Girardeau home in October 2009. A short time later, the jury recommended life in prison without parole.

When Judge William Syler read the jury’s recommendation, Patterson turned to his mother in the gallery and smiled. She responded by mouthing “I love you” to her son.

As Patterson was put in the back seat of a police car after the hearing, he yelled to a reporter, “Tell them not guilty!”

Sentencing will be Sept. 19. Judges do not have to follow the jury’s recommendation, but they usually do.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle argued for death but said he was satisfied with the recommendation.

“It’s clear the jury worked hard, and it’s clear the jury studied the evidence,” Swingle said. “Ryan Patterson will never walk the streets again.”

Several relatives of the victims were clearly upset. Jamie Orman’s sister, Kelly Hoffman, told the Southeast Missourian that as Orman was buried, she stood over her grave and promised she would watch the killer die for the crime.

“Now I’m not going to be able to do that,” Hoffman said. “He was shown mercy. My sister and Derrick were not shown mercy. It’s unfair.”

But Jamie Orman’s mother, Terry Bettis, agreed with the recommendation.

“Nobody understands, but as a mother, there’s been enough death,” she said. “I don’t want another mother to have to go through what I’ve been through.”

Patterson and Samuel “Ray Ray” Hughes went to the home of John Lawrence at the urging of Lawrence’s estranged wife, Michelle Lawrence, who was dating Patterson at the time. Police believe they planned to kill John Lawrence so his wife could collect $400,000 in life insurance. Michelle Lawrence testified during Patterson’s trial that she told him about the insurance money and how they could live the “high life” with the money.

John Lawrence wasn’t home, but prosecutors say they killed his girlfriend, Orman, and her son and burned the house.

Hughes pleaded guilty to being the lookout in December. Michelle Lawrence pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit murder. Both are awaiting sentencing.

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