After three days of witness testimony, a Criminal Court jury found Taylor Satterfield, 22, guilty of second-degree murder on Thursday night.
Satterfield stood trial in Judge Don Poole’s courtroom for the first-degree murder of his girlfriend, Keiara Patton. The mother of two of his children was shot in the head on May 13, 2014. At the time of her slaying, Ms. Patton was 20 years old.
Satterfield himself took the stand as the final witness for the defense. He told the jury that, though he was the one who shot the victim, he had not murdered her.
The night before the shooting, the defendant said he had stayed with Breasia Hubbard, the mother of one of his children. He said he had returned to Ms. Patton’s apartment in College Hill Courts to pick up some clothing.
He told the jury that he and the victim had begun to argue about his continued involvement with Ms. Hubbard when he realized his clothing was gone, set outside on the porch in a plastic container which also contained a .40 caliber gun.
It was when he returned inside with the gun that the defendant said Ms. Patton had charged him and the weapon accidentally fired, striking her in the head.
“I hear Keiara say, ‘Get the f*** out,’ and I look. She had two knives, and I immediately try to shield myself and step back, and that’s when I heard the gun go off,” he said. “I believed that she was gonna stab me.”
After this, Satterfield said he had panicked, running outside for help. When he had realized he was still holding the gun, he said he set it down in a drain beside the vehicle he had been driving.
During a police interview with Satterfield on the day of the slaying, however, the defendant was recorded telling a number of conflicting stories.
Prosecution played the defendant’s interview with Detective Matthew Puglise for the jury. In the video, after Satterfield is told that his girlfriend has died, he slides to the floor in hysterics.
When asked who had killed her, he responds, “Anybody coulda did it. I don’t know who. Everybody.”
Satterfield gave multiple accounts of the slaying in the video, first describing a man in a red shirt fleeing the scene. Then, after Detective Puglise tells the defendant a gun has been found and witnesses have come forward saying they heard fighting, Satterfield claims that the victim was shot when he held a gun to his own head and she attempted to save him.
In the video, he goes so far as to reenact the moment with officers. Later, he again breaks into hysterics, pacing and crying.
“I’m going down for a d*** murder, spend the rest of my life in jail now. Ain’t nobody gonna believe me cause I already lied to ya’ll,” he says. “My girl’s family, they gonna think I killed my girl, and I didn’t. I didn’t kill my girl.”
Toward the end of the interview, Satterfield’s story changed once more, this time describing the victim charging him with knives and the gun accidentally going off.
During closing statements, Prosecutor Cameron Williams pointed out several other significant moments in the video, such as the fact that Satterfield never mentioned retrieving the gun from outside. Instead, he told officers, “I already had the gun in my hand walking around cause that’s what I do when we arguing.”
Prosecutor Williams also pointed out that the defendant didn’t mention knives until after Detective Puglise brought them up, and that during the interview Satterfield states the victim only “had a pocketknife” and “was trying to protect herself.”
Satterfield told the jury that he lied to the police because he was panicking, but now he wants his and Ms. Patton’s family to know the truth.
“You’ve had a lot of time to think about this story, right?” asked Prosecutor Williams. “You’ve had about two years to think about it, right?”
Prosecutor Williams questioned the validity of the defendant’s testimony in court.
“You accidentally shot your girl in self-defense?” he asked.
“What would you call it?” responded Satterfield.
“I’d call it murder. I’d call it first-degree premeditated murder.”
Satterfield’s attorneys claimed that based on the evidence, the most the state could feasibly argue for was a conviction of voluntary manslaughter.
“If you only pay attention to what they want you to pay attention to, if you only believe what they want you to believe, that’s the best they can do,” said defense attorney Ted Engel.
He said it was clear Satterfield did not go to the victim’s apartment wanting a confrontation. He also questioned the testimony of Dr. James Metcalfe, who performed the autopsy on the victim.
On Wednesday, Dr. Metcalfe testified that blood splatter at the scene of the crime indicated the two knives found near the victim were not in her hands when she was shot, but on the floor.
Attorney Engel claimed Dr. Metcalfe “rendered opinions beyond the limits of his expertise” during his testimony.
“He decided to go beyond his medical training, and he decided to start reconstructing a scene,” attorney Engel said. “He works for Hamilton County. He wants to come in here and support whatever findings, by whatever means he can. … The opinion rendered by Dr. Metcalfe is the stuff wrongful convictions are made of.”
Attorney Engel told the jury that finding the defendant guilty would not be justice, but vengeance.
“This was not an intentional act. This was not something that (Satterfield) was walking up those stairs to do,” he said. “He did not walk up those stairs to kill anybody.”