Miami Law’s Innocence Clinic recently began investigating a case with a potentially compelling claim of innocence. Kenneth Patterson was arrested in February 1998 after his co-defendant Tevenin Wagenson identified him as the getaway driver for the armed robbery he committed at an IHOP in Miramar, Florida. Curiously, Wagenson admitted to committing the robbery and originally said a man named Charles, not Patterson, was the getaway driver. After agreeing to cooperate with the State, Wagenson implicated Patterson.
2L Kristin Taylor reviews files in the Patterson case
Patterson has maintained his innocence. However, once in police custody, officers extracted a confession from Patterson. The confession was the only evidence presented against Patterson at trial, as the victim could not identify him as the driver.
“False confessions are the second leading cause of wrongful convictions,” said Craig Trocino, the Innocence Clinic’s Director. “Whenever we see a case where the client is maintaining innocence, and the only evidence against him is a confession, our antennae go up.” Patterson was subsequently found guilty of armed robbery and sentenced to life in prison.
“I’m thrilled to be involved in this case at its inception in the Innocence Clinic,” said 2L Kristin Taylor, the Innocence Clinic student assigned to the case. “I am looking forward to thoroughly investigating this case — speaking with Mr. Patterson, reviewing trial transcripts, contacting former witnesses, and potentially getting in contact with witnesses,” she said.
Clinic students are responsible for investigating all aspects of a case from trial transcripts to fact investigation to uncover newly discovered evidence. In this case, there is a trove of potential newly discovered evidence.
The Clinic’s initial investigation has uncovered that, calling himself “Cee?” contacted Patterson, acknowledging that he was the actual getaway driver and thanking Patterson for taking “the fall” for him in claiming to be the true driver. It also appears that the co-defendant has admitted that Patterson was not actually his accomplice in the heist.
“All of this information is ripe for further investigation,” said Trocino. While Patterson has filed some pleadings on his own, the Innocence Clinic has agreed to fully investigate his case. According to Trocino, “there are some procedural hurdles, but they are not insurmountable.”
“The Innocence Clinic is determined to prove Mr. Patterson’s innocence, and I am proud to be able to investigate this case to find the necessary exonerating facts,” said Taylor. “This will be hard work but we are both optimistic about and excited for the challenging road ahead.”