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Anne Maxine Patton found guilty of husband’s murder in retrial

Anne Maxin Patton trial

Foto: Luis Navarro / Archive

 

May 28th, 2014 (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 in 2010, was found guilty of murder yesterday after a retrial and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

 

The judgment was handed down at 3:20 p.m. yesterday by the criminal court in Perez Zeledon after a nearly two-week long retrial.  The same court had acquitted Patton of the charges on January 21st after her first murder trial.

 

Patton was accused of shooting her husband in the head, and charged with first-degree murder.  Patton, however, claimed her husband had 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.

 

On September 2nd, 2013, an appeals court agreed with prosecutors that evidence in the case was not properly considered during the first trial, which led to Patton’s acquittal on lack of evidence.

 

A three-judge panel called for a retrial 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.

 

Deputy prosecutor for Perez Zeledon, Edgar Ramirez Villalobos expressed his satisfaction with yesterday’s guilty verdict, saying that justice was served.

 

Villalobos said evidence proved that it was impossible that Bender had shot himself.

 

Patton’s defense attorney said her client plans to appeal the verdict.

 

Background

 

Patton met her husband in the U.S. in March of 1998.  Early in their relationship they found that they both suffered from bipolar disorder, according to Patton, which she said brought them closer and hastened their relationship.

 

Patton stated that when they got married, they decided to invest in an ecological project, and began to buy properties in Costa Rica.

 

In 2000, they moved to San Isidro de El General, and the year after that, they moved to Baru. They were awarded permanent residency in Costa Rica.

 

According to Patton, on April 2001, an armed group stopped them when they were traveling in a vehicle in Perez Zeledon, to inform them that her husband was being sued for $98 million in the United States. She said they decided to increase the security measures at their Baru estate after the encounter, and purchased several firearms.

 

She also stated that while living in Costa Rica, both her and her husband would travel to the United States to receive treatment for depression.  Patton said that her husband expressed his wish to end his life on several occasions.

 

According to Patton, her husband committed suicide at 12:15 a.m. on January 8th, 2010, 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.

 

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 her first trial 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.

 

“A brilliant mathematician”

 

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.

 

One of Bender’s ex-coworkers from the Philadelphia Stock Exchange said of Bender, “John is the smartest person I’ve ever met. He was a brilliant mathematician. [...] He was amazingly smart and quick…The last I heard, John’s fortune was about half a billion dollars. John got very rich using mathematics to understand things…”

 

The co-worker stated that the last time he saw Bender was more than 15 years ago, before he left Philadelphia. “He had started buying land in Costa Rica, he wanted to buy as much of the inland area as he could, he said he wanted to preserve the rainforest. He was a nice guy,” he added.

 

 

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  • disgusted

    the CNN special said he put 70 million dollars in a
    trust for his rain forest reserve where his house was and his Costa Rica lawyer stole it all. also, all the high end furniture and
    and appliances from the house were taken out. they interviewed
    the prosecutor and he said they took the furniture because it might
    have been bought with drug money. the wife said the lawyer that stole
    the money wanted to make sure she was convicted so he could keep the
    money.

    they showed a suicidal email that Alan bender wrote that said he was an idiot for trusting such dishonest Lawyers.

    • disgusted

      Morale of the story corruption greedy attorneys and judicial system in Costa Rica that has flaws.Best , Do not invest here, do not trust the attorneys. CNN made the case for suicide we may never know. However unfortunately she will spend 22 yrs locked up. Geez!

      • expatin paradise

        I wouldn’t count on her staying in jail. The Costa Rican government has a poor track record for getting convictions and having them stand up to appeal. If the evidence as presented is to be trusted, this sounds like a good circumstantial case for murder, but this woman should be able to afford a great defense team to get experts to challenge all the evidence and assumptions made thereon.

        • Fernando Gerdano

          As long as she has $ the corrupt CR government officials and lawyers will keep taking it and let her appeal till she runs out of $ then they will let her out.

          • disgusted

            Anne will not do well in the prison system with her mental illness of Bi polar, Anorexia, At one time she weighed like 70lbs as reported at CIMA hospital. I am not convinced she shot her husband. However, as the CNN report we will most likely never know. Now CR it all about the money and property. As they are all looking to get a share of the loot. Three suit cases full of gems and diamonds are supposedly locked up . Huh! they will disappear as well.

  • George

    It smells whether she is guilty or not. Where are all the furnishings for the house? and CNN said $20,000,000 has disappeared from the trust already. Smells like the powers that be jumped onto the bandwagon of tragedy for their own benefit.

  • Chris Thomas

    What they they are trying to do is to get her to spend as much money in lawyers bribes ect, they do not care is she killed him or not they just want to squeeze as much money from her as possible, the Costa Rica government tops the list as the most corrupt countries in the world, everything they do is for self serving reasons and greed.

    • Luis Diego Campos

      Correction, USA gov. top as the most corrupt country in the world, every other nation is also corrupt but miles away to be near the USA corruption level.

      • Chris Thomas

        Luis Diego Costa Rica is one of the most corrupt nations in the world first you have to travel with in Latin America and you can see how other countries that Costa Rica trashes are better off, second the country portrays itself to the world that they are a country of humans rights and trasnperacy while the politicians make more money than some politicians in the world like Johny Araya and Diputados, Johnny made had a bigger salary than the mayor of New York and the manager of the Banks, Karma comes back and Costa Rica has screwed way too many people in the past, I myself have talked at least 5 wealthy people from moving or investing a dime in Costa Rica, I tell every one go to Nicaragua,Ecuador go to ogota and you will see a city not like the sewer in San JOse people you know the saying in Costa Rica todo para adentro y nada para afuera, amen brother open your eyes Costa Rica is heading to the left day by day slowly but surely. This is why Intel,Bank Of America and so many other companies have left and will continue to do so.

        • Luis Diego Campos

          I dont think you should mix personal bad experiences in CR with reality. You sound like someone took advantage of your good intentions. CR is corrupt yes we all agree on that. Is Johnny a corrupt politician? yes. Did he win? No. So what if Ecuador and Nicaragua are better then CR but Iam surprise of your comments stating that CR is heading to the left but have you realize that Nicaragua and Ecuador are already left wing nations? Did you know that dozens of companies and foreigners have lawsuits agains Ortega and sandinistas party because on illegal expropriation of their properties?They are part of the ALBA and their rulers are socialist that hate the free world (USA). You can talk to your rich buddies not to invest here in CR but that is only you and friends. The real investment in CR comes from PROCOMEX, ICT, and the ministerio de exterior and other gov. agencies that promote legal investment, and so far this year dozens of major companies will invest here under the free trade zone of CR. Now just to give you the heads up INTEL sales drop dramatically due to slow sales on desktops and notebooks since the tablet sales are rising and they are moving to Vietnam as part of the infraestructure protocol, and BOA will shut down internationally including Mexico operations as part of a new infraestrucuture strategy in order to bring jobs back in the USA. This is the down side of the economic growth and is a wake up call. But it is definitely not because of the CR corruption issues.

          • Chris Thomas

            I am not comparing Costa Rica to the USA and Europe, I do not know if you have traveled but visit several other Latin American countries with better infrastructure than Costa Rica it seems that for every $1.00 that come into the country .95 cents are stolen and .05 cents are reinvested, the roads are terrible in CR with high fuel prices tell me that is not corruption, go to Bogota and Medellin and Quito and you will see how they do it better, sorry I disagree with you on all levels the Tico is blind and prefers to go on taking it instead of taking a stand. Crime is getting really bad in Costa Rica you can either get robbed by a criminal or a policeman, just ready on google Costa Rica is no longer safe Wikileaks many people agree that Costa Rica is going downhill, you are on a sinking ship and they killed the Goose that killed the golden egg.

          • Luis Diego Campos

            I totally agree with you on this, we are expensive we have no infrastructure, the roads are the worst in the world and we are not even close to be like Medellin, Bogota or Quito but its weird how Colombians and Ecuatorians live happily by the thousands and they seem to be happy since they have no intentios of going back to their great cities. I dont make my opinion by reading newspapers, I do see facts like new terminals at both main airports, a high increase of airlines operations within the recent years. Perhaps American are traveling less than before for many reasons such as USA economy issues, and also CR promotes itself as a very expensive destination in order to attract a class of tourist that is willing to spend mucho dinero. despite of all this CR has experience an increase of a new wave of tourist like asians, Germans,Spanish,Mexicans and even more Canadians $$$$. CR its not interest on the cheap folks,the broke ass,hitchikers,etc.
            Sadly but true, you wants a cheap stay well perhaps Ortegas Nicaragua might fullfill your needs,Correas Ecuador,Colombia or Panama. Let the money spenders play in CR and will get the best of the best, play cheap and youll get a cheap treatment easy as that…

          • Chris Thomas

            One thing Costa Rica is excellent at is lying about the reports and
            statistics for example crime is much much higher most people do not
            report it why bother the police will do nothing, homicides are ruled as
            suicides or death by natural causes, immigration tourism stats are
            greatly inflated they count all the Nicaraguans coming to work, the
            Costa Rica government is one of the most corrupt on planet earth they
            are just great at marketing the country as something safe, I am not the only one that feels this way alot of people that got their money stolen in Costa Rica feel this way and for the rest of my life I will discourage people not to invest in a country of thieves ad liars and soon to be murderers as well.

          • Luis Diego Campos

            We are liars because we learned from the best which is USA. 99.99% of the world population would not agree with you on this. USA gov. the biggest liars,imperialism tactics in order to supress the world with wars and misery just to obtain what they need in order to improve and mantain the global domination and their fake civilization.

            Great examples, Spanish American war, Vietnam,Iran Contra,Guantanamo,Irak 2001 war,bay of pigs, this is just a few that made history lets not forget inside USA like Enron,GM,fast and the furious DEA scandal, and many many ongoing scandals and corruption cases that involve USA high officials.
            As I said on a previous comment CR its thousand of miles away to be the creame of the crop on corruption like uncle Sam is.

          • Chris Thomas

            Oh another thing Johhny Araya is not the only one that receives high salaries the Manager of the Banco Central receives a tons of crazy cash and the Diputados receive crazy money every month and they are constantly asking for raises while the average Costa Rica lives in poverty. This politicians will suck the country dry and when there is no more they will live in other countries, their children go to the best Universities in the world and travel Europe and spend cash like water while the average Tico is not doing well , this is why crime is so high, open your eyes.

          • Luis Diego Campos

            Tell me something that we ticos dont know. Have you lost count of all the marchas during the past 4 years. Things are very slow in CR but sooner or later things will change and this is the tico mentality, we believe in karma and divine justice and thanks to our way of thinking makes us very but very different from other nations. Remember that marchas in CR works without spilling a drop of blood. Just dont hesite, relax and smile becuase every dog has its day or how we say in CR “todo sapo muere apalstado”…

  • Luis Diego Campos

    People make up your mind when it cames down to trash Costa Rica. Some of you gringos say that a wealthy person gets away with a crime in CR and now some of your comments states that because she has money she gets to go jail and gov,lawyers and third parties will take her money..
    Stop living that gringo vida loca hollywood fantasy lifestyle and get your feet back to reality. Courts determine that these couple of locos came to CR fleeing away from the USA for an unknown reason but most likely running away from uncle Sam since they had a well organize illegal jewelry bussiness in CR and not 1 colon was paid to the pura vida papys from hacienda (jewelry 29.9%lamps 29.9% and pretty rocks 49.9%).
    Her side of the story is full of it. Money in offshore banks, locos buying guns, arm security all over their fortress(reminds me of scarface movie), OIJ and prosecutors found blood on other areas of their home, she has gun powder on her at the time of the crime. he was tested and found negative on gunpowder,ballistic test was applied and the position of the body was consider to be imposible for him to hold the gun, and finally one of MR.Patton relatives testified agains her. Her only evidence was a suicide email and one of her relative testified at her favor. My personal opinion is that she thought that she was going to get away with a crime with a little bit of money in a third world country. Morale of the story is never underestimate police.
    Just a few days ago I learned that PCD costa rican police is rank as one of the best police in the world…

    • coolbreeze55

      This women did not kill her husband and the Costa Rican Govt stoled all her property and jewels so that she had not funds to hire or keep a lawyer. The financial person in Costa Rica that her husband hired, stoled Millions from the couple. I love visiting Costa Rica, but this women was totally ripped off by the Govt and people she hired to work for her. This totally makes Costa Rica look very bad and now will not think of buying any property in Costa Rica…..

      • Luis Diego Campos

        Your opinion is welcome but can you prove it?
        OIJ did prove it! Just be mindful that if you have the evidence that back up your statement you can help a women to get out of jail, in Pavas there is a big building known as the US embassy , how come they havent done anything? and there are plenty of international courts in case you dont trust costarican judicial system, And to let you know costarican judicial system is very alike the USA. The govt. will take a percentage to cover the past due taxes on all the luxury and properties they owned since they never paid,and the rest will be taken by Pattons relatives.

        • Peter DeLisi

          Luis, you are so full of shit on so many fronts. You know nothing about any of this, but sit there with your class warfare rants. What can I prove for you? What would you like to know.

  • NorthendFool

    I told her to leave a long time ago because the battle will go on forever. The money was free considering John also accumulated it thru his so called wall street trading. How can anyone be so stupid as to set up a trust in CR. Of all places. I mean they were real dreamers who should have known better but they were in a rush to go to CR like so many who think they cannot be touched by the US GOV. Its the biggest swindle ive heard of in CR but i guess someone has to be the biggest loser. There are many many losers in CR especially the gringos. They come down wearing blindfolds and lose it all. Just look at all the homes that are for sale. Thousands of gringos wanting to cut their losses and go back to where there is some sanity.

  • Stephen Michael Reid

    This is a very very sad story. John was my weight lifting partner when he was in college. We trained together for a couple of years. My fondest memories: 1. I entered my first bodybuilding show in 1987 and John went with me, even though it was his birthday. He stayed and helped me through the morning show and then made it back home for his birthday. 2. Going to a halloween party in the Delorean(happy days!)

    I started searching for him on facebook and then found his story on google, i didn’t think it was him until i saw the pics. I’m upset with myself for not keeping up with him, last time i saw him was 1992. He will be missed!!! R.I.P