For six days of his murder trial, Renado Patterson faithfully appeared in D.C. Superior Court, carefully watching as prosecutors laid out their case against him.
But yesterday, on what was scheduled to be the last day of the trial, he vanished. Both sides in the case indicated that Patterson, who had been free on personal recognizance since shortly after his arrest in connection with the November 1980 slaying of his wife, may have fled because he expected to be convicted.
Judge Robert M. Scott issued a warrant for Patterson's arrest and police have tried to no avail to find him. Scott ordered the trial to continue without the 41-year-old defendant.
Patterson's lawyer, David Lamb, speculated in an interview that Patterson "didn't like what he saw" during the trial. Lamb said Patterson may have thought he was not getting a fair trial because the judge had consistently overruled defense objections to the prosecution's presentation of the case.
Law enforcement officials believe Patterson fled because he feared the jury was likely to convict him.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Hill's case focused on disproving Patterson's claim that his wife, Gloria Goodwin, 29, was shot by a robber who forced his way into their apartment at 2705 13th St. NE.
There were no witnesses to the shooting, and no murder weapon was recovered. Patterson's allegedly inconsistent versions of the incident led police to arrest him shortly after the shooting. Patterson first said his wife was shot in the entrance to the apartment and later said she was shot in the bedroom, Hill told the jury.
But ballistic and medical evidence presented at the trial indicated that Goodwin was shot while lying down on a bed and that the bullet had gone directly down through the mattress into the floor.
Lamb is scheduled to present his closing arguments in the case today--with or without Patterson.