Closs kidnapping, murder suspect due in court Wednesday for preliminary hearing
BARRON, Wisc. (FOX 9) - While a trial may indeed be on the horizon, Wednesday will be just the next step in the criminal prosecution of Jake Patterson.
"The primary concern I would have is Mr. Patterson's ability to get a fair jury trial in Barron County," said Eric Nelson, a criminal defense attorney, who is not on Patterson defense team.
The 21-year-old murder and kidnapping suspect is expected in Barron County Court at 11 a.m. Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.
In Wisconsin, the preliminary hearing gives prosecutors the chance to lay out their case.
It typically involves the state calling the lead investigator to the witness stand to detail the evidence and the steps law enforcement took to apprehend the defendant.
Court documents have shown Patterson allegedly confessed to the cold-blooded killings of James and Denise Closs and the abduction of the 13-year-old middle schooler last October, shortly after Jayme Closs made her heroic escape Jan. 10.
Patterson's legal team might challenge those statements apparently made to detectives in the hours after his arrest.
"They've not heard it. They don't know. They haven't heard the Miranda warning, whether Mr. Patterson was forced or coerced into making a statement. Ultimately, the admissibility of the statement or the confession could become grounds for a constitutional challenge later in the case, but it will be admitted tomorrow," Nelson said.
Nelson says a defendant can always waive his right to a preliminary hearing and it wouldn't surprise him if Patterson chose to go that route on Wednesday given the way the case appears to be stacked against him from the outset.
Ultimately, a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to send the case towards trial and what is likely to be a courtroom battle that is already the stuff of national magazine covers.
FOX 9 reached out to Barron County's Office of the Public Defender, but his team will not be commenting on the proceedings.