After deliberating roughly two hours Thursday, a jury convicted a 22-year-old man of second-degree murder in the 2014 slaying of his on-again, off-again girlfriend.
Taylor Satterfield will be sentenced Aug. 29 on his charge, Judge Don Poole said in Hamilton County Criminal Court. Jurors returned the verdict around 8 p.m. to a full gallery. As family members of Keiara Patton filtered out of the courtroom, Satterfield announced to his friends, "I love y'all," before being led into custody.
Already laden with grief and tense testimony, Satterfield's three-day murder trial took an interesting turn when the 22-year-old wanted to testify. Prosecutors said he fatally shot Patton, 20, after an argument inside her apartment at College Hill Courts on May 13, 2014.
But Satterfield said that wasn't the whole story.
On May 12, he stayed the night with Breasia Hubbard, the woman he was seeing alongside Patton. Earlier this week, Hubbard testified that a fed-up Patton said she'd bought two knives and planned to stab Satterfield. After the state rested its case around lunchtime Thursday, public defenders called Satterfield's older sister, who also testified that Patton "was gonna stab him if he didn't choose her."
Either way, Satterfield said he arrived too early to court on the morning of May 13. He got Hubbard to come back and pick him up. He dropped her off at Howard School, where she was a senior at the time.
"Then I went to College Hill Courts to talk to Keiara and get me a better-looking shirt," he explained.
When he arrived, he parked Hubbard's Dodge Durango out of sight, knowing Patton would recognize it. He went upstairs, to unit 804, sat on the couch while Patton swept the floor, and started telling her about court. But he could tell something upset her.
"What's going on?" he asked.
The reply, he said, was a familiar one: "I know you were with Breasia."
He didn't want to argue, he said. He wanted to grab a shirt and leave — but he couldn't find the storage bin of clothes that he'd brought over two to three weeks earlier. After Patton told him she'd put it outside, he grew alarmed. A few days earlier, he said, he'd stashed the .40-caliber gun that he and Patton bought and owned together inside the bin.
He ran outside, retrieved it, and headed back indoors, armed.
"I didn't want to just be in the car riding with a gun. I had to go back to court. I was just going to take my clothes to avoid any more arguing with Keiara," he explained to jurors.
Instead, Satterfield said, he heard Patton say, "Get the f*** out," and looked up and saw she had two knives.
She charged him. She was two to three feet away, he said.
"It was just fast, man. I really didn't have time to process it. I believed she was going to stab me."
And then what? asked Coty Wamp, one of his public defenders.
"I heard the gun go off," Satterfield said. "I seen her kind of fall back. I ran outside, I was just asking for help, and people was out there."
During closing arguments, defender Ted Engel said James Metcalfe, the chief county examiner, overstepped his bounds by speculating that Patton's alleged kitchen knives were already on the ground when her blood splatter hit them.
But, prosecutor Cameron Williams countered, the defense only attacked that point because it shattered their self-defense argument.
Williams harped upon several points in his final speech to the jury.
Satterfield arrived with a gun, he said. Satterfield often carried a gun whenever they argued, and he was upset because Patton wanted to kick him out. Satterfield ran away after he shot the mother of his children, tried to hide the murder weapon, and then put on an act for police officers, telling whichever different version of events would get him in the least amount of trouble, Williams said.
At one point, Williams approached jurors with a photo of Patton, a 5-foot, 5-inch woman who weighed 94 pounds. When Satterfield raised the weapon, Williams said, her last voluntary act was putting her hand up to protect herself.
"I wonder what she was thinking when she saw that?" he asked. "She's had no voice in this trial. She can't tell her side of the story. The evidence can.
"But pretty soon," he continued, "you will become her voice. Be the voice for Keiara. It's not vengeance. It's justice, for the man who shot her in the head."
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow on Twitter @zackpeterson918.