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Man gets 30 years in daughter's death

June 01, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A 26-year-old Hagerstown man was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years in prison in connection with the death last year of his 3-year-old daughter.

Scott Eugene Patterson pleaded guilty in Washington County Circuit Court to child abuse resulting in death and involuntary manslaughter in the Nov. 9, 2004, death of Madyson King. He was sentenced to serve 30 years for the combined convictions: a 10-year maximum sentence for the involuntary manslaughter charge to run consecutively with a 30-year maximum sentence for the child abuse resulting in death charge, the last 10 years of which Circuit Judge John H. McDowell suspended.

"Every day for the past seven months, he's thought about that five minutes in Madyson's life," his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Carl Creeden, told McDowell before sentencing. "Now, he's got to live with those five minutes for the rest of his life."

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Madyson was admitted to Washington County Hospital with extensive bruising on Oct. 26, 2004, nearly 20 hours after she was beaten by Patterson for knocking over a bucket of water at his 330 N. Mulberry St. home, according to charging documents. She died at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 9, 2004, from blunt force trauma to the head, with subdural hemorrhaging, County Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion said.

As Patterson repeatedly told Hagerstown Police Department detectives: "He did in fact love this child to death," Cirincion said. Patterson originally told detectives that a dresser fell on Madyson and caused her injuries, Cirincion said.

On Oct. 25 at about 5:30 p.m., after Madyson knocked over the bucket of water, "(Patterson) went into a rage. He saw what she had done and he began hitting her," Cirincion said. He struck her on the buttocks as they walked up the steps and struck her at least twice on the head with his open hand, "at least one of those blows actually knocked her to the floor," where she landed on some hard toys, Cirincion said. Patterson then threw Madyson on a bed, at which point her head hit a headboard, and "finally he punched her" in the stomach, Cirincion said.

Patterson didn't check on Madyson until 1 p.m. the following day, Cirincion said.

Cirincion told McDowell that the prosecution entered into the plea agreement, dropping a second-degree murder charge among others, because "we could not medically prove a depraved heart-type murder. The family believes he did not intend to kill Madyson."

Patterson was scheduled to begin a three-day trial Tuesday on the combined charges. McDowell imposed the sentence requested by Cirincion under the agreement.

Family reaction

Three rows of Madyson's family and friends filled courthouse benches for the hearing. Most wore white T-shirts, which were filled with handwritten messages and hand-drawn hearts.

"Sent to us April 12, 2001. Taken away Nov. 9, 2004" one of the shirts read from the back. Madyson's mother, Jessica Hull, wore a shirt that read: "RIP. Mommy's angel."

Irvin Uhler, 41, Madyson's uncle, was the only family member who spoke in court Tuesday.

"Everybody wants to say something. I can't say it all," he said after wiping his hands over his face. "She was a beautiful girl. This was not fair to her."

Tears streamed down the faces of those around him. Patterson, who appeared to have gained substantial weight since his arrest, also cried when he was given a chance to speak.

"I'd just like to say I did lose control that night. I lost a beautiful little girl," he said through tears. "... I'm just terribly sorry. I never meant for it to happen."

Creeden told McDowell that Patterson came from a broken home and was abused as a child.

At age 121/2, it was discovered that Patterson had problems dealing with stress and had bad coping skills, Creeden said.

"Thirteen and a half years later, those same factors contributed to this horrible incident," Creeden said.

"Why are we here?" Creeden asked. "Stress and anger and the inability to reach out to other people to get assistance."

Creeden said Patterson could be in his 40s before he is paroled or released from prison.

Before sentencing, McDowell said, "We can see in this that child abuse is cyclical ... Child abuse is such a devastating crime."

McDowell flipped through a stack of letters, mostly handwritten on notebook paper and submitted by Madyson's family and friends, that explained the impact her death has had on them.

"It does appear that this young girl touched everyone's lives," he said.

He referred to a letter signed by residents of Madyson's Mitchell Avenue neighborhood.

"Every time she walked into a room, she lit up the room. Her blue eyes, how she was bouncing around the room as young girls do," McDowell said, citing the letters he read prior to the hearing. "I'm sure the father that caused these actions will also suffer in causing the death of his child," he said.

After the hearing, Hull, 21, said she thinks Madyson "got a little bit of peace. Him crying didn't mean nothing to me."

Hull felt Patterson should have been sentenced to more time, she said.

Madyson's grandmother, Maryann King, 37, said after the hearing, "He could have just picked up the phone and called me. I'm lost without her. It's just not the same."

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