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Maximum sentences ordered for killer



Published: Tue, April 22, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



There are still two suspects awaiting trial in the killing.

& lt;a href=mailto:bjackson@vindy.com & gt;By BOB JACKSON & lt;/a & gt;

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Prosecutors didn't feel like arguing over whether Kateo Patterson should get credit for 1,002 days or 1,032 days he's been locked up in the Mahoning County Jail.

That's because Patterson had just been sentenced to 66 years to life in prison for helping to rob, kidnap, kill and burn 24-year-old Steven Skinner Jr. of Warren.

"Justice was served," assistant prosecutor Jay Macejko said after Judge James C. Evans of common pleas court imposed maximum, consecutive sentences for charges of aggravated murder, aggravated arson, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and conspiracy.

Judge Evans imposed an additional six years because a firearm was used.

Time served

Under Ohio law, Patterson must get credit for time he spent in the county jail awaiting trial. Judge Evans had calculated it at 1,002 days, but defense attorney Paul Conn said it should have been 1,032.

"Under the circumstances, it really doesn't matter," Macejko said, agreeing to Conn's figure.

Conn said despite a conviction by a jury last week, he expects Patterson to be vindicated upon appeal. He said prosecutors built their case against Patterson on the testimony of witnesses who admitted previously lying to police.

"How can you trust the word of those people who said [Patterson] was involved?" Conn said, noting that he'll seek a new trial for his client.

What happened

Testimony revealed Patterson, 21, of Arch Street, and three other people lured Skinner to a house on Hilton Avenue in May 2000 so they could rob him. Afterward, they locked him in the trunk of his own car and drove it to a remote location on the city's East Side. They doused the car with gasoline and set it on fire with Skinner inside.

Judge Evans said they could have stopped at any time and let Skinner go, but chose instead to kill him "in a cold and callous fashion."

Frank Sinkovich, 24, one of the co-defendants, pleaded guilty to reduced charges in September 2001 and testified against Patterson. He's expected to get a 23-year sentence after he testifies against the other suspects, Clemons Higgins and Bobbie Beal, who are awaiting trial.

Conn called Sinkovich's deal "the gift of a lifetime."

Macejko said if attorneys for Higgins or Beal want to cut a deal for their clients to plead guilty, they won't get a 23-year sentence like Sinkovich's.

"We only offered that once," he said. "If the others want to plead, it will have to be for a substantial amount of [prison] time."

Prosecutors offered the 23-year sentence to all four suspects, and Sinkovich was the first to accept. Once he pleaded guilty, that offer was removed from the table for the others, Macejko said.

& lt;a href=mailto:bjackson@vindy.com & gt;bjackson@vindy.com & lt;/a & gt;




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