Man found guilty of 1987 rape and kidnapping after DNA match

Staff reports

In the meantime, the defendant had returned to where the female was and told her that her friend was at the wrecker service but had no cash and that she needed to come with him to pay for the wrecker before they would tow.  Two older gentlemen who were out to fish had also stopped to help the female.  They tried to pull the car out, but the chains were not long enough.  The female asked them if they thought it would be alright to go with the defendant and they said yes, so she locked her car and got into the car with Patton.

    After the defendant kept passing exits, the victim knew he was not going to bring her to her friend.  Patton kept driving, on and off of the interstate for a couple of hours.  Along the way, Patton asked her several time for sex and she kept refusing, she also kept asking the defendant to bring her to her friend.   After driving from Lafayette to Ascension Parish, the defendant pulled off the I-10 into a field.  The victim could see the lights and hear the cars from the interstate.   He asked the victim for sex again and she refused.    He demanded that she remove her shirt and when she refused, he ripped her shirt off.  The victim thought Patton was going to kill her.  Patton threatened her with physical harm if she resisted.  The victim believed the defendant.  Patton took off the victim’s pants and proceeded to rape her.  After the rape, he watched the victim get dressed and then he got out of the car to put his pants back on.  The victim used that opportunity to open her door and run.  Patton jumped into his car, caught the victim and forced her back into the car.  The victim begged Patton to drop her off at a store.  He drove to one store and then another and let her out, throwing $40.00 at her telling her she was in Mississippi.   She was in Dutchtown.   The victim ran into the store and told the clerk she was raped.  The clerk immediately called the police and the victim was taken to the hospital.  A rape examination was conducted and the doctor found sperm and semen and found that the history and the physical examination were consistent with rape.  The doctor preserved the vaginal swabs and the victim’s clothing and turned it over to Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.  No suspect was identified and the case went cold. 

In 2004 Louisiana State Police obtained grant money in order to assist in the scientific analysis of cold cases.  The evidence from this case was sent to Bode Technology in Virginia for DNA analysis.  Bode Technology is an internationally respected certified DNA lab, who did the DNA analysis for identification purposes of the 9/11 victims, whose DNA analysis exonerated the parents of Jonbenet Ramsey, whose lab has been used by the Kenyan government to assist in solving massive gang rape cases in Kenya, and who are contracted by the FBI and most state law enforcement agencies to provide DNA analysis. 

Bode was able to identify a unique DNA profile of a male suspect from the vaginal swab secured from the victim during the 1987 rape examination.  The DNA profile was entered into a National DNA databank by Louisiana State Police.  In 2007, the Texas Department of Safety confirmed that the DNA of Billy Joe Patton, a Texas correctional inmate convicted there for failing to register as a sex offender, was a match.  Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Department was notified of the match and re-opened their investigation.  The case, originally handled by retired Major Dan Falcon, was assigned to Detective Sergeant Chris Moody who obtained a search warrant from a Texas judge to secure the DNA of Billy Joe Patton.  This known sample was tested and compared against the DNA taken during the rape exam and it was determined that the DNA belonged to Billy Joe Patton.  The likelihood that it belonged to any other person was one in 44.6 trillion.  The victim was located and after viewing a photographic lineup that included a 1993 photograph of Billy Joe Patton, she identified Patten, with ninety-nine percent degree of certainty, as the kidnapper and rapist.  Detective Moody also located the only other witness who observed the attacker that night, and without hesitation, the witness, with one hundred percent certainty, identified Patten from photographic lineup.

Detective Moody, with the assistance of the Louisiana State Intelligence Division found 1984 records from the DMV which showed that a Billy Joe Patten owned a 1979 Camaro, the same type of car the assailant drove on the night the victim was kidnapped and raped.

The defendant’s ex-wife and ex-brother-in law testified at trial in order to attempt to establish an alibi for the defendant.  The ex-wife, Sandra Patton Monk, testified that the defendant was by her side from February 2, through February 14, 1987.  She remembers those dates because she was pregnant with her son, Quinton, and testified that the defendant was a devoted father and husband during that time period.  Ms. Monk, however could not remember the year she married the defendant.  She testified that they divorced in 1988, however Mississippi divorce papers showed that they filed for divorce in 1981.  Further, a 2009 Obituary from the Meridian Star Newspaper identified Quinton as the son of one James Stuart, and identified Sandra Patton Monk as his special friend.  

The defendant’s ex-brother-in law did not know where Billy Joe Patton was on February 7 or 8, 1987; however, he did confirm that the defendant traveled throughout Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama during that time period. 

Billy Joe Patton is a convicted felon.  He was convicted in Mississippi for Sexual Battery on a child under the age of fourteen years old 1994, and again in 2006 in the State of Texas for failing to register as a Sex Offender.  His arrest record and court documents obtained from Lincoln Parish shows that he was indicted in that Parish for the Aggravated rape of an 81 year old neighbor in 1982.  Court personnel indicated that the case was dismissed due to the death of the victim prior to trial.

The Honorable Ralph Tureau who presided over this case remanded the defendant to the Ascension Parish Jail to await sentencing.  Patton faces a life sentence on the Aggravated Kidnapping Charge and forty years on the Forcible Rape charge, however the District Attorney’s Office plans to file a habitual Offender Bill against Patton that exposes him to eighty years on the rape charge.

Robin C. O’Bannon prosecuted the case for the State and David Smith represented Patton.