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Pa. man looking at prison time in fleeing case

April 06, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Quincy Township man convicted of fleeing and eluding police and recklessly endangering other people was sentenced Wednesday in Franklin County Court to 21 months to four years in state prison, but probation violations could extend his time behind bars for several more years.

In February, a jury convicted Norman G. Patterson Jr., 35, of 9120 Tomstown Road, on the two misdemeanor counts, but acquitted him of two felony counts of arson and misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and criminal mischief. Patterson had been charged with fleeing from police in a high-speed chase on March 25, 2004, and then setting fire to his mobile home when police surrounded it later that night.

Pennsylvania State Police alleged Patterson escaped after setting the fire, according to court records.

Patterson remained a fugitive until January 2005 when police lured him to a Greenvillage, Pa., store where he believed he was going to meet a woman he had contacted over the Internet, according to trial testimony.

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Patterson's attorney, Steve Rice, said Wednesday he will file post-trial motions asking the verdicts to be dismissed for lack of evidence. While Patterson has already served more than a year in jail since his arrest, Rice said the probation violations arising from his conviction could keep him in prison for years.

Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom said Judge Douglas Herman scheduled Patterson to be resentenced on the probation violations March 21. According to court records, Patterson violated probation on theft, criminal conspiracy and drug paraphernalia convictions dating from the early 1990s.

Patterson's trial involved two separate cases, one the high-speed pursuit for which he was convicted of fleeing and eluding police; and the fire, for which he was convicted of recklessly endangering other people, according to court records.

"Either they made a mistake or were being lenient," Herman said of the jury's verdict. While the jurors acquitted him of setting fire to the rented mobile home, Herman told Patterson, "the court has to conclude the jury was placing responsibility on you for placing other people in danger."

After the sentencing, Rice said he will ask the fleeing and eluding conviction to be dismissed because there was insufficient evidence at trial that the Waynesboro, Pa., police officer used both his siren and lights in attempting to get Patterson to stop his vehicle.

For the recklessly endangering conviction, Rice said the jury did not convict Patterson of setting the fire that posed the danger to the police officers and firefighters outside the mobile home.

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