Despite Hour Long Plea, Joseph Patterson Sentenced To Life In Prison

'Every day is empty without him.': Victim's Mother Before Sentencing

Life in prison without parole. That’s the sentence that was handed down Thursday afternoon to the Sioux Falls man convicted of murdering Adrian Peterson’s son back in October of 2013. Joseph Patterson was also sentenced to 25 years in prison for aggravated battery of an infant.

Patterson was found guilty of 2nd degree murder, manslaughter and aggravated battery in the death of his girlfriend’s son Tyrese Ruffin. When the verdict was read in late September, Patterson’s father and brother were escorted out of the courtroom because they were yelling. As a result, law enforcement swarmed the courthouse in Canton before his sentencing hearing even began. But the emotion that we witnessed Thursday was only sorrow from both parties.

After 2.5 hours into the sentencing hearing, Judge Bradley Zell told Joseph Patterson that he would be going away for the rest of his life.

“It was a foregone conclusion that today’s sentence would be a mandatory life sentence so we knew that going into it,” said Lincoln County State’s Attorney Tom Wollman.

But before Patterson was sentenced, the proceedings were focused on the victim,   Tyrese Ruffin. The boy’s mother talked about the memories she had with him and about those she will never be able to make. Ashley Doohen said, “Every day is empty without him.” She said she still wakes up with the urge to go check on him but she’s walking to nowhere.

“Very, very, very tragic for this young mother to lose this 2-year-old child and you heard her talk about the, sort of the emotions and the sadness and sorrow that follows when she still goes to look for him,” said Wollman.

Doohen said she carries guilt in the death of her son, asking herself how she could have been so blind.

“Mr. Patterson’s history of abuse of women and abuse of children,” said Wollman. “It’s unfortunate but that’s what brought us to the courtroom today.”

Patterson himself would address the court for nearly an hour. Crying, he spoke about how much he loved Ty and how prior to this, his life was ‘perfect’. He maintained his innocence. He said, “Some how, some way, I’ve been left wrongly convicted for a stuff I did not do, a life I did not take.”

After finding out that Minnesota Vikings Star Adrian Peterson was Ty’s father, Patterson said in court that the running back told Doohen that a father son relationship wasn’t possible. Patterson said Peterson wanted to talk financials with Doohen and he wanted to keep the fact that he was Ty’s father ‘under water’ until the season was over. Patterson said, to him ‘Ty would offer far more than money ever could’.

“This is wrong. I will never be forced into an admission. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever,” said Patterson in court. He asked Judge Zell to look at him, to hear his voice. He said, “I didn’t take this little boy’s life.”

“Given what we knew about this going into it, no, didn’t expect he would make any admissions,” Wollman said.

Instead of a suit and tie, this time Patterson left in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.

Wollman said, “I think they’re (Doohen and her family) relieved.”

Patterson also said Thursday that he ‘could be called a victim of the media’. He said he has been painted as a monster and there’s no way the jury couldn’t have been biased. Judge Zell told him that he chose to have a jury trial instead of just a judge hearing the case.

Patterson’s Attorney Tim Rensch declined to comment on the sentence, but indicated in court that they will appeal the conviction. Patterson also has kidnapping and assault charges pending in Minnehaha County. So far, he’s spent 370 days in jail.