Killer Teen Up For Early Release 21 Years Later
Patrice was 16 years old when she was convicted of taking part in the murder of a 71-year-old man. Patrice was sentenced to 25 years to life.
She is now 37 years old and has served nearly 21 years on her sentence at the Albion Correctional Facility, a medium security women's prison in Albion, New York, about 2 hours west from Syracuse and 6 hours north-west from Manhattan.
Amy was a 16-year-old student at Kennedy High School in Bellmore, New York, when she met 35-year-old Joey Buttafuoco in 1990. Amy was with her father when he took his car for repairs to Buttafuoco's auto body shop. Amy later said she had damaged her own car several times as a pretext to see Joey who later admitted that they had an affair when she was still under-age.
While the affair continued, at the age of 17, Amy shot and severely wounded Mary Jo Buttafuoco, Joey’s wife. Initially charged with first-degree attempted murder, she eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated assault. Amy was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison. She served seven years and was granted parole after Nassau County Court Judge Ira Wexner shortened her maximum sentence to 10 years, which made her immediately eligible for parole. The judge acted after having found that Amy had not been appropriately represented by her lawyer at the time of her 1992 guilty plea.
Amy became a best-selling writer, a webcam model, and a pornographic actress.
This week’s case is about another killer-teen. But not so famous. Patrice was 15 years old when she was subjected to abuse, coercion and exploitation at the hands of the Robert Robinson, a 71-year-old man with whom she had an eight-month sexual relationship. One day, she was involved in Rob’s murder. She was convicted and sentenced. Now, Patrice wants to go home. This is Patrice’s hearing for early release -- 21 years later.
Testimony of Patrice:
Q: Please tell us about the evening that Rob was killed.
A: Yes. Thank you. Mitch and his four-month-old child, and I, took the bus to Robinson's house because the friends who had been at home with us had left, and we were bored. After watching T.V. for about half an hour, Robinson began demanding sex from me, and told me to go into his bedroom in the back of the house so we could "do it." I told him, no.
Q: How did Rob react when you refused?
A: Rob reminded me of all the things he had bought me. After I told him again I did not want to have sex, Rob got really mad and demanded that I repay him for everything he had bought for me.
Q: Did Robinson do anything after that?
A: Yeah. He slapped me across the face and ordered me to go to his room. I resisted and tried to get to the front of the house but Robinson kept pushing me back toward the bedroom. He was threatening to kill me with the gun he kept. He had shown it to me before. It got real physical and we were fighting out in the hallway. We both fell to the floor, struggling. I thought Robinson was going to get his gun, so I grabbed a telephone cord and pulled it around his neck. Then, Mitch got involved and he put a pillow over Robinson's head.
Q: Then what happened?
A: I let go of the telephone cord and then Mitchell grabbed it and continued to pull it around Rob's neck. Me and Mitch left and later that same night, Rob's daughter had found him dead and stuff thrown around the house. That was it.
Q: And you had a trial and you were sentenced for that, right?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Let’s talk about how you spent your time while in prison.
A: Yes. Okay: So far, I have earned both an associate and bachelor's degree – I made the Dean's List honors. I successfully completed anger management and other counseling programs. I volunteered in the Alternatives to Violence Project at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and I was selected for and successfully completed an advanced course in conflict resolution. I have been trained as a sighted guide for the visually impaired. I have worked as a nursery attendant and porter, and completed a training program for HIV/AIDS Peer Educators and HIV Test Counselors. I just tried to make the best of the circumstances and the most of my opportunities. Yeah. That’s all I can think of.
Q: Thank you, Patrice. I just want to talk a little more about your relationship with Robert. You said he was 71. How old were you when you first met him?
A: Beginning when I was 15 years old, I had entered into an eight-month sexual relationship. The sexual stuff started shortly after we had met.
Q: How did it begin?
A: Rob began taking me shopping and out to eat. And he would remark that I was "tender" because I was so young. We first engaged in sexual conduct while in Rob's car while parked outside an abandoned train station -- he offered me $50.00 to let him touch me.
Q: Did you take the money?
A: Yeah. I needed the money to eat. No joke.
Q: What did Rob do after he offered you the money?
A: He touched me, masturbated and then gave me the money. As the months went on, Rob continued to request sex acts from me in exchange for money: he gave me $100 to perform oral sex on him and asked me to "strut my stuff" and strip for him. He also asked me to engage in sex with other adult males -- his friends, and asked me to bring other young girls to him for sex and to perform "sex shows". Rob bought me food, school clothes, shoes, boots, marijuana and alcohol, and encouraged me to drink before having sex. Rob promised to give me a car if I got my driver’s license, and to buy me a house if I could have his baby. I didn’t want to do that anymore so then he forced me to have sex by threatening to disclose the nature of our relationship to my friends and family.
Q: How did you meet Rob?
A: I met Rob at a gas station when me and Mitch were having car trouble. Rob had helped us start the car, and he had given me his phone number and encouraged me to call.
Q: Did you call him?
A: Yeah. Not long after we met. I was having trouble with my father. Rob convinced me that I didn’t need my father. We began calling each other nearly every day, and when the weather started getting colder Rob bought me a winter coat and boots. He also bought me a gold chain with an eagle on it and gave me the watch off his wrist when he realized I didn’t have one.
Q: When was the first time you went to Rob’s house?
A: The first time I went to Rob's house was after I had called him, told him I didn't have anything to eat and asked him if he would give me some food. That was the first time we had relations. Before I ate.
Q: If you are released early, what are your plans?
A: If, God willing, I am released, I plan is to use my experience, training and education to assist youth who are vulnerable to exploitation.
Closing Argument By Patrice's Lawyer
Thank you, Your Honor. The fatal strangulation of Robert Robinson was a brutal crime—a crime for which Patrice has been held accountable, and rightfully so. Yet, because of the circumstances present here, it is not a crime for which Patrice should remain incarcerated for the rest of her natural life. Patrice's age at the time of the offense, the sexual abuse and exploitation she suffered, and her exemplary record while incarcerated compel her resentencing to a term that more effectively, and more justly, considers her circumstances and status as a victim of violence and abuse.
Ruling By The Judge
Will the Defendant please rise?
The full picture here is one of a 16-year-old female who had been raped, abused and coerced by a man 55 years her senior, who had exploited and coerced her through escalating offers of money and gifts for sex and by threatening to expose the relationship to the public.
Research has shown that domestic violence exacts a heavy psychological toll on its victims, impacting their states of mind, making them hyper-vigilant to cues of impending danger that would go unrecognized by someone who had not suffered abuse, increasing their perception of danger and causing them to act impulsively.
The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, authorizes the imposition of alternative sentences for survivors of domestic violence. The legislation was born of the realization that "domestic violence and women's incarceration are inextricably linked”.
It is this court's firm opinion that the sentence originally imposed is unduly harsh.
ORDERED, that Patrice be resentenced. And Patrice will be RELEASED IMMEDIATELY.
Victims of domestic violence must be viewed by our criminal justice system in a way that recognizes not only their status as offenders but as their status as survivors.
21 years for this offender-victim, according to this judge, was enough. It is now time for Patrice to begin a new life as the better person she has become.
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