October 7th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Anne Maxine Patton, the U.S. woman who was accused of killing her wealthy husband, John Felix Bender while he slept in their sprawling estate in Baru, Perez Zeledon, will face a retrial of the case after a court dropped the charges against the woman in January.
In the original trial, Patton was accused of shooting her husband in the head, and charged with first-degree murder. Patton, however, claimed her husband committed suicide while the two were alone on the 4th floor of their mansion. She said she awoke to find her husband with the gun; when she tried to take it away from him, it fired.
Addressing the judge during the trial, Patton said, “He told me that he was tired of living such a hard life with all that he had gone through, he said he was afraid of hurting someone, and that he believed that I was safer without him.”
Initially, police believed Patton’s account of the events, but as the investigation got underway, investigators soon believed that Patton murdered her husband.
According to authorities, the position of the body was an important factor in raising their suspicion. Secondly, after examining the victim’s wounds, it was found that there was no exit wound from the bullet, which would be expected in such a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The bullet was fired into the right of Bender’s head, who was left-handed. As well, the firearm was found far from the victim’s body, and there were no gunpowder residues on Bender’s hands.
And, while Patton claimed that her husband was bipolar and depressive, others, including friends and co-workers said that Bender was in good psychological health, and did not suffer from depression.
Bender had earned in excess of $600 million with a mathematical approach to Wall Street investing. He ran several arbitrage funds before suffering a stroke in 2000, according to online sources.
The couple’s mansion was an amazing 5-story, 8,000-squared foot house, which included an elevator, pool and helipad. It is said to be valued at $4.5 million. Authorities found over 300 Tiffany lamps inside the house, as well as over 3,000 precious gems. Among them were diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds.
The number of precious stones was such that investigators on the scene, initially attempting to count the diamonds and gems, later decided to simply begin weighing them and packing them into suitcases. In all, 4 suitcases full of diamonds and gems were removed from the home – and placed into the vaults of Costa Rica’s Central Bank.
Apparently, Bender brought the jewels from Africa to sell them in private, millionaire-only auctions at the couple’s mansion. Participants would travel to Costa Rica exclusively to participate.
A three-judge panel called for the new trial based on the assertion that the judges in the original trial had ignored a number of discrepancies in the case – including the fact that Bender’s body was in a sleeping position, that earplugs were found in his ears, and that while Bender had no gunpowder residue on his hands, napkins found on the second floor of the house tested positive for the substance.
Inside Costa Rica was the only English-language publication to extensively cover the original case.