Accused Jayme Closs kidnapper Jake Patterson appears in court, waives preliminary hearing
Jake Patterson, accused of kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents, had a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Barron County Circuit Court. Jim Rosandick, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
BARRON, Wis. - Jake Patterson, accused of kidnapping Jayme Closs after allegedly killing her parents, appeared in person Wednesday in Barron County Circuit Court, where he waived his preliminary hearing.
Patterson, in orange Barron County Jail coveralls, responded to Circuit Judge James Babler's questions Wednesday with one-word answers. He said "yes" when the judge asked if he understood he had a right to a hearing, and whether he still wanted to waive it.
Otherwise, Patterson said little. A family member in the courtroom's front row said what sounded like "I love you" as sheriff's officials escorted him into the courtroom; Patterson nodded in response.
Patterson had made his initial court appearance Jan. 14 via video from the county jail.
Babler set a March 27 date for Patterson to return to court for arraignment, and adjourned the hearing three minutes after it began.
Neither prosecutor Brian Wright nor Patterson's defense attorneys, assistant state public defenders Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, answered questions from reporters after the court appearance.
Nor did members of Patterson's family, nor the more than a dozen relatives and supporters of Closs. She has been staying with relatives since she escaped in mid-January.
In a preliminary hearing, a judge determines if there is probable cause that a felony was committed, and whether there is adequate evidence that the crime might have been committed by the person whom prosecutors charged. But Patterson and his attorneys did not wish to hear the evidence against him.
It's not uncommon for a defendant to waive the preliminary hearing. By doing so, Patterson acknowledged that there is enough evidence for a case to go forward without admitting guilt.
What we know about Jayme Closs' kidnapper Jake Patterson. Wochit
Patterson faces four charges, brought by District Attorney Brian Wright:
» Two counts of first-degree intentional homicide: The shotgun slayings of Jayme's 56-year-old father, James, and her mother, Denise, 46, on Oct. 15. Denise and Jayme had taken refuge in a bathroom after James Closs was mortally wounded by a blast fired through the front door.
» Kidnapping: Prosecutors say Patterson took 13-year-old Jayme from her house without her consent and then confined her against her will at his house, 70 miles north of Barron in rural Douglas County, for 88 days.
» Armed burglary of the Closs house. A burglary is when a person illegally enters a building or other place intending to commit a felony.
Douglas County DA Mark Freuhauf announced Jan. 25 that he doesn't plan to file charges against Patterson in connection with her captivity in Gordon. But he said his office "retains the ability to charge Patterson at any time within the statute of limitations for any crime it determines Patterson has committed."
He said the decision was based on the existence of other charges — likely a sign prosecutors in Barron believe they have a strong case — and unspecified "victim-related concerns."
After his Jan. 14 initial appearance, Patterson was transferred to the Polk County Jail in Balsam Lake, 34 miles west of Barron.
Contributing: Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten, USA TODAY-NETWORK Wisconsin
Follow Doug Schneider on Twitter: @PGDougSchneider