CBS to treat Costa Rican justice system with story of Bender case

Television viewers in the United States will get a glimpse of the Costa Rican justice system Saturday when the CBS Network show “48 Hours” features the Ann Patton case.

She is the wife of a multimillionaire who has been acquitted and then convicted of the murder of her husband. The network just reported that  a husband and wife team of forensic experts have raised serious doubt about the investigation and the evidence that was used to convict the woman.

A trailer for the program shows that Ms. Patton was interviewed extensively on camera. She claims that she unsuccessfully wrestled with her husband, John, to prevent his suicide. The death took place in the five-story glass mansion on the 5,000-acre reserve the couple owned in La Florida de Barú de Pérez Zeledón. Patton was half a billionaire from his trading career winnings.

Expats here have been watching the case closely because of their own concerns about the Costa Rican justice system.

U.S. viewers certainly will be surprised by the way the law here allows an appeals court to reinstate a charge after acquittal. Anglo-American justice rejects double jeopardy.

A trial court acquitted Ms. Patton Jan. 21, 2013. The second trial May 27 resulted in a guilty verdict.

Since she was the only other person there when her husband died, prosecutors depended heavily on the position of the body, the entry wound and testimony from a medical examiner, Gretchen Flores Sandí. Supporters of Ms. Patton, including her brother Ken, have shown that Ms. Flores made significant changes in her testimony between the first and second trial. Supporters also point out that prosecutors have never established a motive for a murder. That was one reason she was acquitted in the first trial, according to the decision by the three judges.

The “48 Hour” experts concluded that the account provided by Ms. Patton, that she wrestled her husband for the gun, could be consistent with the fact. He was shot in the right side of the back of the head.

Bender and his wife suffered from depression, and he had talked

By all accounts, the Benders were devoted to each other.

By all accounts, the Benders were devoted to each other.

about suicide in the past.  In testimony, Ms. Patton admitted three suicide attempts since 2000.

Testimony also showed that neither of the Benders had gunpowder residue on their hands when police investigated. The weapon was a 9-mm. Ruger pistol.

Ms. Patton has appealed the guilty verdict.

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