The Stamford Advocate
Jeff Morganteen, Staff Writer
Updated 10:54 p.m., Monday, March 7, 2011
STAMFORD — The Southwood Square resident who shot and killed a Norwalk man in September in what attorneys called a case of self-defense will not face murder or manslaughter charges, prosecutors said Monday.
Last fall Jason Kendrick, 24, admitted to authorities that he killed 20-year-old Michael “Brazy” Patterson, of Norwalk, on Sept. 25 after witnessing him fire several rounds into Donta Wilks, a 31-year-old Stamford man who died from his gunshot wounds early the next morning. Kendrick told police he returned fire with a legally owned handgun after Patterson shot at him and a friend in the Southwood Square housing complex following a dispute at a barbecue that turned deadly. The killings were the only homicides in Stamford in 2010.
Kendrick was arrested shortly after the fatal shootings on an unrelated warrant charging him with several counts of selling crack cocaine to an undercover officer, and Stamford police investigators quickly called him a potential suspect in the September killings. He is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond on those drug charges.
At the time, defense attorneys called the circumstances a classic case of self-defense. During a pretrial hearing at state Superior Court in Stamford on Monday, Assistant State’s Attorney James Bernardi said the state lacked enough probable cause to charge Kendrick with homicide or manslaughter in the fatal shooting.
“That is a burden in the present state of affairs we could not meet,” Bernardi said.
Defense attorney Mark Sherman argued to lower Kendrick’s $500,000 bond in light of the decision not to charge Kendrick with manslaughter or murder. Bernardi stressed that Kendrick owned two handguns because he was in the drug trade and used one of them to kill someone, but Sherman argued that authorities could not find any potential offenses related to those firearms.
Superior Court Judge Gary White denied the motion to reduce bond, saying the court could not overlook the fatal shooting.
“The court doesn’t put blinders on,” White said. “I have to take everything into account.”
Kendrick appeared in court Monday wearing a bright orange prison-issue jumpsuit. Several of his friends and relatives were in the courtroom, one of whom cursed when marshals led Kendrick back into state custody. Kendrick has been incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield since his arrest at the end of September.
“There was no crime committed in the other incident,” Sherman said of the fatal shooting. “We are relieved and grateful that he’s not going to be charged in the incident, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Authorities believe the gunfire on Sept. 25 occurred over of a dispute at a barbecue between a South Norwalk man, Lamar Taylor, and several Southwood Square residents, including Wilks. The incident turned deadly after Taylor fired a single gunshot at the ground, court records show. That’s when Patterson pulled out a firearm, shot Wilks several times and beat him as he tried to flee up a hill.
Kendrick, who lived in a nearby apartment with his family, told police he and a friend saw Patterson shoot Wilks and that they came under fire when Patterson spotted them. Kendrick told police he returned fire with his own handgun and hit Patterson several times. Wilks and Patterson died at the hospital the following morning.
Stamford police Lt. James Matheny, head of the Major Crimes unit, said investigators may pursue other firearms charges related to actions taken during the shooting that could be considered criminal offenses. He said he plans to discuss the case with prosecutors.
“There’s always the possibility of other firearms charges, other than homicide or manslaughter,” Matheny said. “It’s definitely still an open case for us.”