Patrick Steen was sentenced to death by the State of North Carolina for the murder of Virginia Frost. According to court documents Patrick Steen would break into the home of eighty year old Virginia Frost, attempted to sexually assault her before murdering the woman and robbing her home. Patrick Steen would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.
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At trial, the State’s evidence tended to show that on 29 February 1996, shortly before 4:00 p.m., Officer Gordon Ogilvie of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department responded to a report of a broken window at 2626 Tanglewood Lane. The victim, eighty-year-old Virginia Frost, had resided at the residence for forty years. When Officer Ogilvie arrived at Mrs. Frost’s residence, a neighbor, Susan Bankson, met him. She explained that her children had been playing in Mrs. Frost’s yard and found some broken glass. Ms. Bankson went to Mrs. Frost’s house and saw that the glass door leading to the sunroom was shattered. Ms. Bankson called Mrs. Frost’s daughter, Ann Copeland, and also the police.
Officer Richard Stahnke also arrived at the scene. The officers entered the victim’s house to determine if a break-in had occurred. Once inside, the officers noticed that the house appeared to have been ransacked. The officers then observed the lifeless body of Virginia Frost lying in a bathroom. Mrs. Frost was nude except for a shirt pulled up around her neck. The officers also observed what appeared to be dried blood on Mrs. Frost’s face and on one of her hands. There was a pool of blood around her head, and there appeared to be an indentation on her head as though she had been struck with some object. A pair of pantyhose was underneath Mrs. Frost’s body.
An autopsy performed on 1 March 1996 revealed contusions over the bridge of the victim’s nose, around her left eye and over the left side of her cheek; a laceration on the right side of her scalp; bruising over her head, neck, left arm, shoulder, chest and buttocks; and a broken tooth. The autopsy also revealed areas of hemorrhage around the brain, swelling and bruising of the brain, sixteen separate fractures to ten different ribs, and small tears in the inner lining of the chest. The autopsy report described the head injuries as blunt-trauma injuries caused when the body was impacted by something blunt. The report also stated that none of the blows would have been immediately fatal, and that Mrs. Frost would have survived for three to four hours. The cause of Mrs. Frost’s death was determined to be blunt-trauma injuries to her head due to an assault.
On the same day that the police discovered Mrs. Frost’s body, Officers A.J. Mullis and P.M. Ensminger of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department responded to a call concerning a man on a bicycle weaving on Randolph Road, which is less than two miles from the victim’s residence. The officers discovered the defendant, Patrick Joseph Steen, on a bicycle on the roadway, weaving back and forth through heavy traffic. The officers pulled defendant over on the side of the road and observed a large contusion running across defendant’s forehead and what appeared to be dried blood on his left cheek. The officers also noticed an odor of alcohol about defendant. After obtaining consent to search defendant, the officers found a driver’s license issued to a William H. Maynard and numerous credit cards with the same name. The officers also found a crack pipe and a marijuana pipe on defendant’s person. The officers arrested defendant for possession of drug paraphernalia and theft of the credit cards. Officer Mullis subsequently sent information about defendant to a homicide investigator looking into the murder of Mrs. Frost.
On 6 March 1996, defendant gave written consent for the search of the clothes he was wearing when he was arrested. Defendant was released from custody on 14 March 1996. On 16 March 1996, two of the murder investigators went to his home and asked defendant to accompany them to the Law Enforcement Center. Defendant was told he was not under arrest and was questioned about his whereabouts from 26 February to 29 February 1996. Defendant was subsequently placed under arrest for Mrs. Frost’s murder and was advised of his Miranda rights.
At trial, Henrietta Doster, an acquaintance of defendant’s, testified that in late February 1996, defendant showed her and her boyfriend, Charlie Davis, a small red television. Defendant also emptied the contents of a small blue tote bag which contained coins, buttons and a lady’s wallet. Doster looked at the wallet and saw an elderly lady’s driver’s license with the name “Virginia” on it. Davis gave defendant thirty dollars for the television.