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At one level, the murder case unfolding in a Tarrant County courtroom this week involves a straightforward love triangle.
But it’s more complicated than that.
The triangle story is that defendant Johnny Lloyd Patton Jr. killed Richard Slatkin, 66, the ex-husband of the woman Patton was living with.
Patton, 65, admits the killing, saying he shot Slatkin once in the chest in self-defense.
The prosecutors say Patton carefully calculated the fatal shooting out of jealousy. On Wednesday, they called Catherine Slatkin to the stand to testify against Patton.
That’s when the complications unfolded.
Catherine Slatkin is a granddaughter of Bob Alexander, a co-founder of Alcon, one of Fort Worth’s signature industries. She married Richard Slatkin, a private investigator, in 2009 when she was 26 and he was 62.
Catherine Slatkin testified that she receives a monthly allotment from a family trust fund.
“Just so people know you’re not a gold digger,” prosecutor Eric Nickols said.
Catherine Slatkin testified that she had a child with Slatkin. But while still married to him, she had an affair with Jason Patton, the defendant’s son, and they had a child.
The affair caused friction, which led to the Slatkins’ divorce in 2013.
Jason Patton was sent to prison on drug charges, she testified.
Catherine Slatkin’s mother and Johnny Patton’s mother had been friends since youth, and the Patton and Alexander families were close, she said. So she naturally gravitated to Johnny Patton, Slatkin testified.
After a family gathering, Slatkin invited Johnny Patton to her residence, where they started “making out,” she testified. She started seeing Johnny Patton just before his son was locked up.
Her ex-husband was still in her life. After Patton moved into her Benbrook residence, she continued to see Slatkin, which angered Patton, she said.
Richard Slatkin was a good husband and good father to both her children, Catherine Slatkin said.
“I wanted to keep it as normal as possible for the kids,” Slatkin testified. “So I continued to see Richard. [Johnny Patton] didn’t understand why I had to spend all day over there.”
Was it self-defense?
Johnny Patton has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in the death of Richard Slatkin on Oct. 1, 2013.
According to prosecutors and testimony, Patton shot Slatkin in the chest in the street outside Catherine Slatkin’s house on Crosslands Road in Benbrook.
Before the shooting, Patton made repeated 911 calls saying that his girlfriend’s ex-husband was intent on killing him. Those calls were played in court Tuesday.
On Wednesday, prosecutors played recordings of conversations between Johnny Patton and Catherine Slatkin made immediately after Patton was arrested.
Richard Slatkin “came running up and said ‘I will kill your ass right now,’ ” Patton said.
“You should have seen him,” Patton told Catherine Slatkin. “His eyes were crazy. He was so mad, his eyes, they glowed.”
Catherine Slatkin testified that she did not know that Johnny Patton had been arrested until she saw him in the back of a police cruiser as it passed her car.
“Did your mother see me?” Patton asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“What did she say?” Patton asked.
“She said she hopes you rot,” Slatkin said.
“What?” Johnny Patton asked incredulously.
“She said she thought that you did it on purpose,” Slatkin said.
Slatkin said she believed Patton’s self-defense story for several weeks and continued to live with him. Patton bought her a ring and they told people they were engaged, she testified.
“I think I was just so in shock over the situation,” Slatkin testified. “I thought Richard was going to come back and it was all just a bad dream. One day I just woke up and realized Richard was no longer here and at that point I was done. I told [Patton] to leave.”
Catherine Slatkin said Richard Slatkin typically carried a gun, as did Patton. But she never saw Patton carry two guns, she said.
Investigators testified that they recovered the gun that Patton used to shoot Richard Slatkin. And he had another gun in his back pocket.
Testimony is expected to continue Thursday in state District Judge David Hagerman’s court.
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