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Hospice Administrator Guilty of Murder

mySA reports that a jury has found a former South Texas hospice administrator guilty of capital murder for killing an elderly McAllen man to gain access to his money and estate.

Monica Melissa Patterson, 50, the daughter of Hector “Tito” Palacios, a former Hidalgo County Precinct 2 Commissioner and former Mayor of San Juan, was convicted Wednesday in the asphyxiation death of Martin Knell, 96. The state decided not to seek the death penalty in the case, so the conviction carries an automatic life sentence without parole.

In addition, Patterson was convicted of theft of property of $200,000 or more connected to Knell’s estate. The jury also found Patterson guilty on a separate count of theft of more than $100,000 but less than $200,000, related to money she took from Comfort House and one count of misapplication of property as a fiduciary while she was an administrator at the facility from January 2014 until her arrest in August 2015.

For the theft of Knell’s property, the jury gave her 15 years and a $10,000 fine. For the theft from Comfort House she was given 75 years and a $10,000 fine. For the fiduciary violation, she was handed four years and another $10,000 fine. The sentences will run concurrently.

At the time of Knell’s death, Patterson had been named payee upon death on his bank accounts and stocks, and was executrix and beneficiary of his will.

Over the course of the five-week trail, in the same courthouse where Patterson’s brother is a county court-at-law judge, dozens of witnesses were brought to the stand, though none as pivotal to the prosecution’s case as Knell’s caretaker, Celestina Mascorro, 60, at his home.

Mascorro testified that on January 28, 2015, Patterson ordered her to wait outside while Garza entered the Knell residence wearing plastic gloves. Patterson told Mascorro that Knell had to be put to sleep because he had accused Mascorro of stealing. Patterson then instructed her to wait 30 to 45 minutes before calling 911, Mascorro said.

At first, Mascorro told authorities that Knell had been found slumped over and was not breathing, and a preliminary investigation did not indicate foul play. A justice of the peace pronounced Knell dead of natural causes, and no autopsy was ordered.

But Mascorro later confessed to Texas Rangers investigators that Knell had been killed, explaining that she had lied to authorities out of fear for her safety.

Crime Statistics

2014 Crime Facts at a Glance According to the Texas Department of Public Safety:

  • There were 913,403 index crime offenses reported with a 20.3 percent clearance rate for Texas in 2014.
  • The crime rate for the State of Texas was 3,392.2 index offenses for every 100,000 inhabitants.
  • During 2014, Texas law enforcement officers made 878,686 arrests. Of those arrested, 6.6 percent were 16 years of age and under.
  • Firearms were used in 63.3 percent of all murders reported.
  • There were 65,338 aggravated assaults reported. Of these, 21.3 percent were committed by the use of hands, fists, and also feet; 21.4 percent involved a knife or cutting instrument, and 24.2 percent involved a firearm.
  • 185,817 family violence incidents during 2014. There were 201,051 victims and 195,511 offenders.
  • There were 18,756 sexual assault incidents reported with 19,834 victims and 19,821 offenders.

San Antonio Wrongful Death Attorneys

You sometimes have to ask yourself, is your elderly family member safe in these hospice/assisted living facilities? Unfortunately, we hear of these cases often and want to help you if your family has been victim to a case such as this one. Contact our San Antonio Wrongful Death Attorneys today for help in your wrongful death case.