My best friend Jenn texts me this story, “Murder Suspect Wants to Use Penis as Evidence in Court, and we’re sickened by what we figure is some dudebro defense: a man claiming his girlfriend is dead because she choked on his big dick. But this dude is 65, and killed his 60-yr-old girlfriend by asphyxiating her, possibly with his dick. The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to prove conclusively due to decomposition, since he cleaned up the scene and waited a few days to report the death. Worst case, it was outright rape and murder. Very best case (as if there can be a best case), it was an accident, but if he’s telling the truth, he would have had to completely ignore all the ways in which a woman, a human being, would struggle – intentionally and involuntarily – to try and open her airway.

I’m outraged. I tell my (not criminal law) lawyer husband about it. He reminds me I just wrote a piece about my experience with online outrage and the damage that digital pile-ons can do. I should know better.

This pisses me off, but in the moment I can’t articulate why, so I go think about it a while. Here’s how I think this is different: I’m not personally attacking or participating in an online attack targeting this man. I’m not emailing him, or trolling his Facebook page, or leaving bad reviews for his business. I’m not upset at someone for a misrepresented version of the events on an opinion blog without authoritative primary sources. No, I’m upset over the facts of the case, facts that no one disputes – even he claims to have killed her with his dick – the only dispute is whether it was murder or an accident. I’m upset that a woman is dead.

Let me repeat that. A WOMAN IS DEAD.

And really, I’m more upset about the coverage. The story, as originally reported and followed by the Miami Sun Sentinel, is straightforward reporting of the facts of the investigation and trial: “Richard Henry Patterson, 65, of Margate, is charged with second degree murder and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted in the 2015 death of Francisca Marquinez, 60, whose lifeless body was found in her Royal Park Gardens apartment in late October 2015.” Her body was found lifeless because Patterson didn’t bother to call 911 after she died. He waited a few days, called his lawyer, and his lawyer called the police. Detectives found her decomposing body on a bed, covered by a bed sheet. “Local 10 News reported that responding authorities found a bag that was filled with paper towels covered in blood and semen inside the kitchen. More blood was found inside of the apartment and on one of her fingers with the scene looking as if someone attempted to clean it, the arrest report said.” The arrest report also said that Patterson sent several texts to family and friends saying that he did something terrible.

Patterson’s defense claims the death was an accident and Patterson panicked – that she choked on his penis during oral sex. The autopsy results were inconclusive — the medical examiner was unable to determine a cause or manner of death because Marquinez’ body was too decomposed: “According to court records, Brian Peterson, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, said one to three days of decomposition would make it challenging to tell the difference between someone who had been strangled or choked from one who had been smothered with a pillow or had her airway blocked. ‘It’s the kind of case where I wouldn’t be surprised to find no physical findings at all,’ he said.”

But this murder happened in late 2015. Why all the interest now? People are seeing this story because of the following development on May 15:

In a motion filed this month, Padowitz said the jury needs to see Patterson’s penis to fully understand the defense. In court Monday, prosecutor Peter Sapak had no objection to the motion, but Broward Circuit Judge Lisa Porter declined to say whether she would allow it and, if so, under what circumstances.

Sapak said the decision could come only after the judge hears from defense expert Ronald Wright, a former chief medical examiner for Broward County who is prepared to testify that the autopsy is consistent with gagging as a cause of death.

“We did argue that the penis should be erect because the state of the penis, whether it was erect or flaccid, is an issue in this particular case,” Sapak said. “The defense feels that it is not [relevant], and we’ll have to hear the testimony of Dr. Wright to determine if it is.”

This bizarre strategy by the defense is why this development is being reposted in such places as Huffington Post and Vibe, but also on a host of other blogs and clickbait sites who tag it with such headlines as the following:

Regardless of the site of the repost – from the relatively more serious HuffPo to the lower-brow gossip sites – it’s clear they’re amused by the case and how it’s being defended. Richmond, VA news anchor Curt Autry posted a link to the story on his official FB page, with the following tag:

THIS MAY BE THE MOST BIZARRE ….. and outrageous murder defense I’ve ever heard in my life, and the odds of it working are slim to none. He better hope for a …. #hungjury  #ONLYinFLORIDA

The commenters on these stories carry on this amusement in the threads, clearly competing for the biggest LOLs:

I will be following this case closely to see if it results in a hung jury.

Or insufficient evidence.

A gag order could be imposed.

It’ll never stand up in court.

Usually, it’s the jury that’s hung

Bet he gets a stiff sentence.

The jury may find his defense hard to swallow.

Several, like news anchor Autry, also take the opportunity to make fun of Florida as a place where OF COURSE this would happen.

Very occasionally, someone in these threads – nearly always a woman – will remind everyone that a woman lost her life; these posters are either outright ignored, or are mocked for not being able to take a joke.

Interestingly, there’s an odd brand of misogyny coming from self-identified gay men in the comment thread at Joe.My.God., who claim this never would have happened to them, as though women are innately incompetent before the almighty dick:

I’m sorry in advance for this. I have yet to meet a cock that can choke me.

Would never happen to a gay man.

Hell, I don’t even have a uvula any more

If my husband can’t choke me to death with his dick, doubt this guy could do it to his girlfriend.

But some commenters on these stories go straight past joking:

If only she had swallowed…. Oh well.

Maybe she didn’t use the safe word.

looks like she got the short end of that stick

i like it! DBB – death by blow job! 

Gagging during a blowjob is one of the most romantic sounds…someone is choosing your dick over oxygen.

In fact, there’s one blogpost, Barstool Sports, who has active regular reader-commenters, which gets particularly dark after its brief, obligatory nod to the deceased:

This is obviously a sad story because a person died but oh man is Richard Henry Patterson the luckiest guy who’s ever allegedly killed a woman before. If this all works out and he is allowed to show his dick to the jury and their reaction is “Oh yeah. Wow. Whoa. That thing could definitely kill someone,” then he’s gonna be the most sought after penis in Florida’s south coast. That’s the pickup line to end all pickup lines, “hey babe, my dick is so big it literally killed someone and a jury agreed.” Can’t take a step outside without women throwing themselves at you when you’ve got a lethal weapon in your pants. Girls love some healthy competition and you gotta imagine they’d love to hang their hat on the “I took a killer dick” rack. You ever had your girl tell you she’s sore in the mooring? [sic] Best feeling ever, right? Well not anymore, now it’s a jury of your peers telling you that you’re packing a WMD.

And I’ll tell you what, if this is actually what happened then shoutout to this guy’s ex-girlfriend too. If she accidentally choked to death on a penis then that’s gotta be one of the most outrageous BJs that have ever been given. Come up for air? No thank you, I’ll die for this game. 

Many of the comments below this story take the same joking tone as in other threads. Several commenters remarking that author must be gay or be familiar with cock-to-throat size to write about this: “But you’re still alive.”

But the misogyny, and the joking about the sexual murder of a woman, aren’t the worst of it – some comments go much, much darker:

I’ve often wondered (usually after porn), if someone has actually done that before. Shouldn’t be too hard to pull off unless she bites your dick off. Just have to have a good grip on her head. Death by dick has a good ring to it.

He probably started calling his dick “The Murder Weapon” and I wouldn’t blame him if he did.

She definitely was choking on it but he definitely made the decision to keep it in there and end her life lol

Commenters like these demonstrate delight, even excitement, over a man literally killing a woman with his dick. And while several take the opportunity to claim “only in Florida,” the commenters – and their terrifying attitudes – are posting from all over the country.  These men find Patterson oddly awe-inspiring, even mock-heroic. He has done what they’ve only imagined, what they threaten on Twitter and Facebook and other online forums to do to women, every single day – threats that regularly are “not found to violate community standards.” If men are willing to say these things, posted under their own names on public threads, what do you think is being said in private Men’s Rights groups, on sub-Reddits, on 4chan? Patterson may currently be being prosecuted, but he’s also being admired.

A woman is dead.

The way it’s covered does not violate community standards. There’s no online pile-on, no outrage – only gleeful one-liners.

Are you not amused?


Poet and essayist Heidi Czerwiec is the author of two recent chapbooks – Sweet/Crude: A Bakken Boom Cycle, and A Is For A-ke, The Chinese Monster – and is the editor of North Dakota Is Everywhere: An Anthology of Contemporary North Dakota Poets. She lives in Minneapolis. Visit her at

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