Man executed for 1989 murder

Sept 18, 2002
By Mark Passwaters/Huntsville Item Staff Writer

Jesse Joe Patrick, a Dallas County man sentenced to death for the 1989 rape and murder of a neighbor, was executed Tuesday evening in the death chamber of the Huntsville “Walls” Unit.

Patrick was found guilty of brutally killing 80-year-old Nina Rutherford on the night of July 8, 1989. Patrick, who had previously served two years of a four year term for aggravated assault, was 44.

Wearing a red shirt, Patrick made no final statement but nodded to his British wife Hester, who had married by proxy while on death row. As the lethal dose of drugs began flowing at 6:10 p.m., Hester Patrick said “I love you” to her husband through the plexiglass divider.

After a few moments, Patrick made one long sputter and lost consciousness. His wife began to sob and emitted a loud wail. After a few moments, she turned away and began to address Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees in the room with her, calling them “bastards.”

“I hope you are satisfied now,” she said. “You ought to do something about your justice system. This is a disgrace and you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Patrick was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. In a statement released after the execution, Rutherford’s family expressed compassion for the Patrick family.

“Our prayers are for the Patrick family during this sad time of grief,” they wrote. “This is not a vendetta or a social event. We all hurt and hope the Patricks can understand our grief for the past 13 years waiting for justice to be done.”

Patrick was arrested on July 22, 1989, in Jackson Miss. and was extradited to Texas to face a capital murder charge filed in Rutherford’s death. Patrick became a suspect within hours after Rutherford was found beaten with her throat slit by a rusted butcher’s knife. He had called police to report a burglary at his house — two doors down from Rutherford’s — but was gone by the time police arrived.

Police obtained a search warrant and searched Patrick’s house the next day, finding a sock caked in dried blood, an amount of toilet paper with dried blood on it, and a pair of denim jeans also covered in blood. Testing showed the blood on the sock and toilet paper to be a genetic match with Redd’s; Patrick’s girlfriend identified the butcher knife as her’s and a partial palm print from Redd’s bathroom window sill matched Patrick’s.

Patrick confessed to the crime shortly after his arrest, but later recanted. He was found guilty by a Dallas County jury on the capital murder charge and sentenced to death on April 16, 1990. He had attempted to obtain a stay of execution so DNA testing could be done on the semen found in Rutherford’s body, but that appeal was rejected on the grounds that there was no “reasonable probability” such a test would prove his innocence.

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