Back again from the brink of death, survivor returns to the courtroom

By Nick R. Martin | July 15th, 2009 | 3:24 pm | No Comments »

Paul Patrick, who considers himself “the face of the victims” in the Serial Shooter case, listens to testimony in the trial of one of his attackers, serial killer Dale Hausner, earlier this year. Photo by Julio Jimenez

Live from the courtroom: The man who has positioned himself as “the face of the victims” in the Serial Shooter case returned to the courtroom today after fending off death for the second time.

Paul Patrick became an enduring figure in the courtroom earlier this year during the six-month trial of serial killer Dale Hausner, who led the Serial Shooter crime spree during 2005 and 2006. Patrick saw his daily presence there as a duty to the victims who could not or did not attend the trial for whatever reason.

The survivor of a 2006 shooting, Patrick went missing from the courtroom on the final day of closing arguments in Hausner’s murder trial. His absence stood out that day, even among the high drama of the day’s proceedings. It turned out that Patrick suffered a stroke that morning, which doctors later said was the likely result of the shooting three years prior.

“It’s sometimes minute by minute,” his mother, Mary Patrick, said as her son laid unconscious in a hospital bed in a state of near death.

It was the second time Patrick had been in that condition. In 2006, he spent about six weeks in a coma that police thought would likely kill him. Phoenix police detective Clark Schwartzkopf testified last year that at one point he believed the next call he would get regarding Patrick would be from the medical examiner’s office asking him to report for man’s autopsy.

Patrick proved his doubters wrong back then, though, and survived. He recovered enough to attend Hausner’s trial.

Now, he has done it again. Patrick was back in the courtroom today for the death penalty trial of the second gunman in his shooting, Samuel Dieteman. He is much thinner now and speaking just above a whisper, but he has returned to his regular spot sitting just behind the prosecutors.

Prosecutor Vince Imbordino acknowledged Patrick’s presence during his opening arguments this morning. “His injuries are going to be with him for life,” Imbodrino said. “They are not going to go away.”

Defense attorney Maria Schaffer acknowledged him, too. Reading a list of the victims shot by her client, she paused on Patrick’s name and looked in his direction. The jury looked that way, too.

With recognition from attorneys and jurors alike, Patrick was again was able to do what he set out to do. He once more became the face of the victims.