A Florida man accused of killing his girlfriend maintains she accidentally choked to death while performing oral sex on him.
Police arrested Richard Patterson, 65, in November 2015 and charged him with second-degree murder after they found his girlfriend, 60-year-old Francisca Marquinez, dead in her bedroom from asphyxiation.
Prosecutors allege Patterson strangled her to death, but Patterson says it was an accident. He claims she choked on his unusually large penis, and he has requested he be allowed to show it to the jury as evidence.
"Dr. [Ronald] Wright, an expert witness and former Broward County medical examiner, will testify that ... her death is consistent with being accidentally sexually asphyxiated during oral sex," defense attorney Ken Padowitz stated, according to the Sun Sentinel. "It is material and relevant. The view by the jury is essential for them to fully understand Dr. Wright’s testimony and the defense in this case."
If Patterson is given permission to expose himself, Padowitz said it should take place outside of public view. The judge, jury, lawyers, a bailiff and the defendant would be the only people present.
Arrest records show that, following Marquinez's death, Patterson contacted Padowitz rather than calling 911. Police discovered the victim's body after Padowitz contacted them and told them to search her apartment. She had been dead for between eight and 24 hours by the time they found her.
The medical examiner was reportedly unable to determine the exact cause of death. The autopsy found no signs of trauma. There was no bruising on Marquinez's neck. The medical examiner stated that because the body was in the early stages of decomposition, bruising may not yet have been visible.
"It is rare in a murder case that the medical examiner can’t say the manner of death is a homicide," Padowitz said.
Padowitz added that the prosecution's case relies on statements Patterson made to his daughter and a friend following Marquinez's death. In a text message to his daughter, Patterson wrote that he "did something bad." Later, he told his friend: "I choked her. I choked Francisca."
"He said he choked her," Padowitz added. "He never said he strangled her."
Former New York City medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden told the New York Post that while sexual activity can lead to accidental deaths, he has "never heard of choking on a penis."
He explained that deaths typically occur as a result of autoerotic asphyxiation, where one person chokes the other to achieve heightened pleasure.
"It’s usually the male who compresses the neck vessels of the female, with the idea that they’ll have a better orgasm as the oxygen supply is diminished to the brain," Baden said. "And that can lead to death."
He emphasized that while Patteron's defense is unlikely, it's not impossible.
"I’ve not seen it, that the penis alone will choke somebody to death," he said. "However, if there’s obstruction, it’s possible. And in order to choke to death, the penis has to obstruct the windpipe, probably down to the area of thyroid cartilage, or the Adam’s apple, for a period of time."
"Strange things can happen," he added.
According to Marquinez's neighbors, she was unhappy in her relationship with Patterson and was planning to break up with him before she was killed.
"Two days before she died, they were arguing, shouting at each other," neighbor Eddie Pathik told the Sun Sentinel. "She was trying to break off the relationship."
No hearing date has been set for the defense's motion. Jury selection is scheduled to begin May 15.