KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — A man charged with killing two people in two counties in southwestern Michigan has been convicted of first-degree murder in the first trial.
A Kalamazoo County jury returned its verdict against Zachary Patten Monday for the July 20 murder of Graciela Portillo-Esparza.
Patten didn’t deny what happened but told police that he was aiming for the victim’s brother. Patten’s girlfriend told police he was jealous of her ex-boyfriend, Oscar Portillo-Esparza.
Patten now faces an automatic life sentence without a chance for parole.
Patten is also charged with murder in St. Joseph County. Police say he drove about 30 miles after killing Portillo-Esparza and shot his ex-wife’s husband.
Police reports obtained by 24 Hour News 8 indicate Patten was agitated and upset when he returned home the evening of the shooting, and was due in court the next day for a hearing about his parenting time and child support.
The prosecutor told jurors that Patten “almost appeared to be a man on a mission” last July. He was arrested in South Bend, Indiana, after voluntarily walking up to police.