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Concerned parole board orders killer to serve full sentence

Kristin Murphy/Deseret News, File Photo

Concerned parole board orders killer to serve full sentence

By Pat Reavy | Posted - Aug. 24, 2015 at 3:58 p.m.



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Editor's note: A story about inmate Michael Patterson in last week's KSL.com was based on a recording of a 2009 parole hearing erroneously sent to the newspaper from prison officials. This story is based on a recording of his latest parole hearing on Aug. 18, 2015.UTAH STATE PRISON — A member of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has expressed concerns about a convicted killer being released back into society.

But in less than two years, Michael Patterson — who killed his girlfriend and dumped her body in Spanish Fork Canyon before shooting her roommate — will have served his full sentence and the state will no longer have any jurisdiction over him.

The board decided Monday not to grant him parole. Patterson will service his full sentence and be released on Aug. 8, 2017.

In a turbulent 2009 hearing, Johnson told members of Stephanie Woolfork's family to "get over" her death. But a much calmer Patterson admitted last week that he killed Woolfork, 18, of American Fork, by strangling her with a belt when he was 19. Woolfork disappeared on July 23, 1997. Her badly decomposed body was found near Thistle about a month later.

After killing Woolfork, Patterson shot Woolfork's roommate, Alexis Caldwell, 22, from 2 feet away while she was holding the hand of her 2-year-old son. Caldwell survived but suffered extensive internal injuries.

Patterson pleaded guilty to several charges, including manslaughter, as part of a plea deal. Patterson is bipolar and has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. He has been transferred from the prison to the Utah State Hospital multiple times since being sentenced, and has been housed in the mental health clinic while at the prison.

Patterson was calmer during last week's hearing than he was during the 2009 hearing that was marked by several agitated outbursts and odd rants. But his odd ramblings continued during his latest hearing.

Jesse Gallegos started last week's hearing by noting that Patterson had previously been denied parole. "The board was concerned there might be mental health issues with you," he said.

Gallegos asked Patterson if he had read his mental health report that his doctors had submitted for the hearing. "Did you understand it?" Gallegos asked.

"Yeah, I got mental problems," Patterson replied.

"Do you think you should be released from prison?"

"I feel maybe this could be excused. I feel that it has been a long time since I knew life from the streets. I feel that I wouldn't do any type of crime that prison was psychological and I wouldn't want to come back. I shouldn't do too long maybe. I don't know about that. I know that it's a severe charge. Still yes, but maybe no," Patterson said.


I feel maybe this could be excused. I feel that it has been a long time since I knew life from the streets. I feel that I wouldn't do any type of crime that prison was psychological and I wouldn't want to come back. I shouldn't do too long maybe. I don't know about that. I know that it's a severe charge. Still yes, but maybe no.

–Michael Patterson


Woolfork's mother and daughter attended Tuesday's hearing as they did in 2009.

"I have seen very little change in Mr. Patterson. I have not seen any remorse or anything. There could have been three deaths that day," Toledo Woolfork, Stephanie's mother, said.

"He doesn't deserve to be out in public. I just feel if he was released he would be dangerous to the public, dangerous to my welfare and my daughter's welfare," she continued.

The last time Woolfork's family spoke, Patterson became unsettled and interrupted them, prompting the parole board member conducting the hearing to threaten to remove him from the room.

Last week, Patterson waited until it was his turn to speak before replying. But his odd ramblings brought about an audible sigh from a frustrated Gallegos.

"I know that she is kind of fretful about what happened. But it's been 20 years being locked down and maybe a change in attitude took place. I do actually understand the crime I did and I know why it happened," Patterson said.

"I reacted like that and I thought that I did good. I don't know. What I was doing was selling drugs and dealing with people. I dealt with women before. Just prison had to take place and happen. I'm glad that it happened and I'm knowin' about good people that know about things more better than I do. I'm in your care, as I'm here," he continued.

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"I don't know how this happened. It's just not right. I just know I was removed from the street and there was sources involved also … like laws and powers and things that control your mind and the way the mind works. There was an influence involved. … I don't know, it seemed like the whole world was watching or something. It seemed like it was a set up. I don't know what you can find out. I am ready to leave though. I wouldn't break the law no more."

Patterson claimed it had been several years since he heard voices in his head. But Gallegos politely cut off Patterson to tell him his concerns about him being released from prison.

"I have to be very honest with you Mike, I'm worried about you. I'm worried, sir, that you're not capable of taking care of yourself," he said. "I know this is something you probably don't want to hear, but maybe you do, it's very possible, Mike, that the best place for you is being in prison."

Gallegos encouraged Patterson to come up with a plan on how he was going to live once his sentence expires.

The full five-member board voted to keep Patterson behind bars until he completes his full sentence in two years.

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Pat Reavy

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