Opening statements and testimony of first murder trial for Zachery Patten
KALAMAZOO, Mich. —
A Kalamazoo County trial is underway for a man accused of killing two people in West Michigan.
Police say Zachary Patten shot and killed Graciela Portillo-Esparza, 31, at the Americana Estates Mobile Home Park in Kalamazoo County in July 2107.
Investigators say Patten then drove to his ex-wife's home in St. Joseph County and killed Shane Richardson, her new husband.
Newshcannel 3's Christine VanTimmeren was in court today and heard from three witnesses, who were all family members of Portillo-Esparza. They were in the area when the shooting took place.
Oscar Portillo, victim's brother, said, “When she wasn't responding... But I just got blood on my hand.”
Portillo was first witness called by the prosecutor. He is also the ex-boyfriend of Patten’s then-girlfriend Nicole.
He said on the stand that the day of the shooting Patten sent him a racist text message where he asked if Oscar wanted to, "Fix this or what."
Hours later he said Patten showed up at his house in the Americana Estates, yelled something, and within seconds fired shots. Oscar believed were intended for him, but hit Graciella.
Graciella’s cousin Juan Portillo talked about the moment he realized she had been shot.
Juan said, “I seen my cousin just lying there and I couldn't do nothing.”
One of the witnesses said in court that he believes Patten’s actions were the result of jealousy.
The prosecutor said in her opening statement that Patten told his daughter he had a hit list with both his ex-wife's new husband and his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend on the list.
Patten is facing three counts, including first degree murder, but the defense says there is not sufficient evidence to prove that.
Testimony will continue Thursday.