On the afternoon of Oct. 1, 2013, Johnny Patton gunned down the ex-husband of his heiress girlfriend, Catherine Slatkin. On the surface, he seemed innocent — Patton was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, claiming that he was in fear for his life. He even went to the police station earlier that morning to inform them that Richard Slatkin, the 66-year-old private investigator Patton later shot to death in front of his lover’s suburban home, was planning on killing him. So, it appeared Patton shot his love rival out of self-defense. At least, according to Fort Worth Star-Telegram, that’s what Patton claimed.
Why, then, was Johnny Patton, a successful oilman, found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison two years later? Because, despite his words and strategic claims of feeling endangered, things just weren’t adding up for police and prosecutors.
The Police Statements Before The Murder
As seen on Oxygen’s “Killer Affair,” Johnny Patton did go to police to give a statement about what he believed he heard the night before — that Richard had told Catherine he was going to kill Patton. However, when Catherine gave her statement that same morning, her story didn’t match. She said Richard planned to beat Patton up, which was not enough for police to arrest him for intent to murder.
Additionally, Patton didn’t appear to be displeased that his so-called cry for protection was not fulfilled. Prosecutor Eric Nickols noted Patton’s indifference.
“Most people, when they go to the police department saying, ‘Someone’s doing something to me, I need you to do something,’ and they don’t get satisfaction, they get mad. They get angry,” Nickols said on the show. “But the police later said he strangely was like, ‘Okay, good, as long as you guys got a report.’ Because all he cared about was having it documented.”
The 911 Call
Patton called 911 as he drove through the neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas, where Catherine lived. That morning, Richard was at her house with movers, because he was picking up some of his belongings. Patton told the dispatcher that Richard was going to kill him, and that he had to do something. He then shot Richard in the chest — allegedly in order to protect himself.
“If you are truly in fear for your life, why are you going to drive to the person that you’re telling the police department that is about to kill you?” Prosecutor Melinda Westmoreland said on the episode.
In the taped conversation with 911, Patton told the dispatcher that Richard was at the house, and there is the sound of the car accelerating down the road. That means Patton wasn’t even at the house yet when he made the claim, prosecutors said; he completed the drive despite being aware of the alleged threat.
“That’s not self-defense,” Nickols told Oxygen. “That’s hunting.”
The Testimony of the Movers and Patton’s Ex-Wife
In phone recordings featured in “Killer Affair,” Johnny Patton claimed that Richard was “crazy,” and that he wasn’t sure if he had been armed with a weapon. After all, both Patton and Richard were licensed to carry, and in the state of Texas, it is lawful to use deadly force against someone if there is reason to believe one’s life is at risk. According to the movers, who were at the house when Richard was shot to death, Richard posed no threat — he had been walking down the hill with his arms in the air. Detectives found no gun on Richard’s corpse, though he did have a pocketknife in his possession; it was found closed, however.
The testimony of Patton’s then-estranged wife of 40 years, Latryle Patton, did not go well for him, either. Daily Mail reported that Latryle described Patton as violent and physically abusive. Latryle also testified that Patton used to carry a gun, and would threaten her with it after their sons moved out of their shared home.
“He would tell me ‘I could kill you at any time,’” Latryle reportedly said.
Johnny Patton’s self-defense claims would shatter in less than a week; the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to life in prison.
Wondering how the complicated love triangle between a businessman, a private investigator and their wealthy young love interest came to a deadly end? Watch “Killer Affair,” which premiered Thursday, July 11 on Oxygen.
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