Molly McIntyre, a Vero Beach police officer at the
time of the killing, persuaded her son to confess to fellow detectives.
She later left the force and collected a $5,000 reward, which she
donated to two organizations.
McIntyre is serving a life term at the Martin
By Kathryn Rubenstein and Bryan Robinson -
March 16, 1999
VERO BEACH, Fla. (Court TV) —Apparently
swayed by the pleas of McIntyre's mother, a Florida jury unanimously
recommended that Patrick McIntyre serve the rest of his life behind
bars without parole, but spared him the death penalty.
The judge will make a final sentencing determination
on April 26.
After the hearing, victim Nicole Damatt's mother and
stepfather expressed their dissatisfaction with the jury's
"We've always been for the death penalty...He didn't
give Nicole a choice," said stepfather Ron Perry. "Nicole would have
wanted the death penalty [for McIntyre]," he added. Dee Perry had a
question for Vero Beach residents. "If it were you daughter, would you
have voted differently?" she wondered.
The Perrys plan to write the judge in an effort to
persuade him to enforce the death penalty despite the jury's
Patrick's mother Molly — who encouraged the
confession that might have landed her son on death row — had a final
message for her son. "I love you. You're my son and you will make it."
She also seemed ambivalent when asked if she would attempt to elicit a
confession, if she could do it all again.
On Monday, Molly McIntyre insisted that her son is a
good man who deserves a chance at redemption. With her hands trembling
and her voice cracking, Mrs. McIntyre explained to jurors that she
wanted Patrick to do the right thing and tell the truth.
She pointed out that investigators would not have
been able to solve Nicole Damatt's murder if Patrick had not confessed
with her encouragement. Suggesting that Patrick should be spared because
he confessed, Mrs. McIntyre begged jurors for mercy.
"For the life of me, I don't know if I could go
through the same thing, knowing it would lead to this," McIntyre said,
referring to the penalty phase of her son's trial.
McIntyre, 26, is already serving a life sentence for
the attempted rape of his aunt. Molly McIntyre said she didn't know
where her son went wrong, but appeared to shoulder some of the blame
"He didn't have a mother for 22 years because his
mother was protecting the people of the state of Florida, and they owe
me that," said McIntyre. "You can't kill him ... I don't deserve that."
"He's [Patrick] a good man. He committed a horrible
crime, but he's a good man. He's not going anywhere ... he can't get
out. Maybe he can do some good and give something back, but he can't if
you kill him."
On March 5, Patrick McIntyre was convicted of first
degree murder, armed burglary with assault or battery, arson with a
weapon, theft, and felony cruelty to animals for the October 1997
strangulation death of Nicole Damatt and the fire that killed her dog
At trial, prosecutors argued that the key evidence
against McIntyre was his confession, which he initially gave to his
mother Molly, a police officer, and then to investigators.
The defense claimed that Molly McIntyre was not
acting as a mother, but as a police officer when she talked to her son
after his arrest for the murder.
During the penalty phase Monday, Mrs. McIntyre was
clearly in the role of a mother as she pleaded with jurors to spare her
She explained how baby Patrick and her other son Todd
lost their father in a drunk-driving accident. That day, Mrs. McIntyre
said, her sons lost two parents.
Crushed by the loss of her husband and not recovered
from the suicide of her brother, Molly McIntyre said she was afraid to
love and was not the best mother she could have been to Patrick.
McIntyre said her own problems and her commitment to
her job prevented her from being a good parent and forging a bond with
her sons until recent years.
"I love him with all my heart," Mrs. McIntyre said. "He's
my baby. He always will be."
Todd McIntyre, the defendant's brother, also asked
jurors to spare his brother's life, admitting that he and his mother's
jailhouse visit with Patrick shortly after the murder was motivated by
the desire to save him from the death penalty.
"Nicole Damatt didn't deserve to die. No one does,"
Todd McIntyre said. "I don't believe anyone should have the power to
decide whether someone dies. I guess I just don't believe in the 'eye
for an eye' theory."
Defense attorneys also tried to suggest that Patrick
McIntyre had a drinking problem that contributed to his actions on the
night of Damatt's murder. (He was drinking before he killed Damatt).
Two friends of the defendant testified that they had
seen Patrick drunk at times but did not strongly suggest alcohol abuse.
Before the beginning of the penalty phase,
aggravating factors such as the potential danger McIntyre caused when he
set the fire were dropped.
But prosecutors did focus on his prior convictions
for sexual battery and the attempted rape of his aunt in December 1997,
shortly after Damatt's murder.
McIntyre was sentenced to life plus 30 years for the
attempted rape. Prosecutors were trying to show that McIntyre had a
pattern of attacking women he knew in the middle of the night.
McIntyre's aunt testified on his behalf and insisted
that she personally did not advocate the death penalty for anyone — not
VERO BEACH, Fla. (Court TV) — It took
jurors less than one day of deliberations to find Patrick McIntyre
guilty on all counts for the strangling murder of Nicole Damatt.
McIntyre was charged with first-degree murder, armed
burglary with assault, armed arson, grand theft and felony cruelty to
animals. His punishment will be determined at a penalty phase on March
15. McIntyre faces the death penalty.
After the verdict was announced Patrick's mother
Molly McIntyre thanked her friends and family. She said she wanted to
tell her "brothers and sisters at the Vero Beach police department that
I love them and this is the hardest thing they've had to do."
Molly, who is also a Vero Beach police officer, had
been accused by the defense of instructing Patrick to confess to
Damatt's 1997 slaying. Throughout the trial, Molly insisted that she
only urged her son to "tell the truth."
"I'm his mother and I had to do the right thing. You
have got to tell the truth. It's the only hope we have," Molly
reiterated after the verdict.
But Patrick now faces the death penalty, a punishment
the defense claims Molly promised her son he could avoid by confessing.
At trial, prosecutors argued that the key evidence
against McIntyre was his confession, which he initially gave to his
mother Molly, and then to investigators.
However, the defense argued that Molly McIntyre was
not acting as a mother, but as a police officer when she talked to her
son after his arrest for the murder.
Patrick, defense attorneys said, would not have
confessed if his mother had not allegedly promised him that he would not
receive the death penalty. The defense claimed McIntyre's confession was
illegally obtained and invalid.
Shortly after prosecutors rested their case without
calling Molly McIntyre, the defense summoned her to the stand to explain
Molly testified that she never promised Patrick he
would not get the death penalty if he confessed and realized she was not
in position to make him promises.
Admitting that she did not want "her baby" to get the
death penalty, the witness said she only wanted him to tell the truth.
But Molly McIntyre conceded telling Patrick that he "should do what he
has to do" to resolve his legal troubles.
Molly said she wanted to ensure Patrick knew that she
loved him and was visiting him as a concerned mother, not a police
officer. She said she visited him voluntarily and was not ordered by
Vero Beach police officers to elicit a confession from her son.
During cross-examination by prosecutors, Molly
testified that at the time of Patrick's arrest, she was on-leave from
police duty because of an injury. Undermining the defense's contention
that she was acting as an officer, prosecutors had Molly testify that
she was not wearing her uniform when she visited her son.
After Molly's testimony, both the prosecution and the
defense gave closing arguments. Prosecutor Moira Lasch focused on
Patrick's confession where he admitted entering Damatt's home, killing
her, trying to make the crime scene look like a robbery, and setting the
apartment on fire.
Lasch said that Patrick killed Damatt and set her
apartment on fire to cover-up his crimes and to make it convenient for
him to get away with robbery and murder.
But in his closing argument, defense attorney Jim
Harpring pointed out to jurors that none of the physical evidence
decisively links Patrick to Damatt's murder and the subsequent arson. He
said the state's only reliable evidence, the confession, is unreliable
because it was coerced by Molly McIntyre.
Reminding the jury that Molly said she did not want
her son on death row, he suggested that she would have done anything to
help him — including suggesting that he confess.
"The only evidence in this case is so suspect, it
cannot even be considered," Harpring said. "You cannot say beyond
reasonable doubt that Patrick McIntyre's confession was voluntary."
During rebuttal closing arguments, prosecutor Mary
Ann Duggan denied the defense's suggestion that the Vero Beach police
department conspired to coerce Patrick's confession and said the
investigation was conducted professionally. She emphasized that Molly's
visit with her son was as a mother, not as an officer and argued that
the confession was legally obtained.
Florida v. Patrick McIntyre
"Florida Strangulation Trial"
By Bryan Robinson - CourtTV.com
February 26, 1999
VERO BEACH, Fla. (Court TV) — When a fire
destroyed a Florida apartment exposing the body of 26-year-old Nicole
Damatt, police were baffled. An autopsy revealed that Damatt was not
killed by the fire, even though her dog Sam died from smoke inhalation.
Damatt had been strangled — a T-shirt was discovered around her charred
neck. Furthermore, investigators found her apartment door and kitchen
window open; outside the window was a ladder.
While evidence suggested Damatt was murdered, police
appeared to have no suspects. On November 4, 1997, approximately one
month after Damatt's death, Vero Beach police offered a $5,000 reward
for any information on the case. Damatt's family later added $2,000 to
the reward. Although the local press suggested the police had no leads
by calling the case a mystery, investigators did have a suspect —
Patrick McIntyre, an acquaintance of Damatt who had lived in the same
apartment building until a few days before the fire.
Vero police approached Molly McIntyre, Patrick's
mother and a police officer, and ordered her not to get involved in the
investigation, not to use department resources to gain information about
the case, and to turn over any information she received about Damatt's
On December 10, 1997, Patrick McIntyre was arrested
on charges of burglary and attempted sexual battery. He had broken into
the home of his uncle (his father's brother), and forced his aunt out of
bed at knifepoint in an apparent attempt to rape her. But Patrick's
uncle was awakened and managed to subdue his nephew. After his arrest,
Patrick signed a Miranda card invoking his rights.
Two days after the arrest, Molly McIntyre and her
other son Todd met with Vero police officers and spoke to Patrick in the
jail conference room. It is unclear whether Todd witnessed the
conversation between Patrick and his mother. Furthermore, what mother
and son discussed is disputed.
But, defense attorneys claim Molly, who's a police
officer, urged her son to confess to Damatt's murder to avoid the death
penalty, without formally reading him his rights. While she says they
never discussed the circumstances surrounding Damatt's death, Patrick
agreed to make a statement to a Detective Dan Cook.
When Patrick saw Cook, he was Mirandized, waived his
rights and gave an audiotaped confession to Damatt's murder. He admitted
breaking into her apartment, attacking and strangling her, stealing her
computer, and setting her apartment on fire.
However, Patrick's defense argues that his confession
was false and illegal because of his mother's promise. His attorneys
argue that Molly McIntyre was not acting as a mother during her jail
center conversation with her son but as an officer and Patrick had not
been Mirandized. They claim Molly illegally interrogated her son, and
that nullifies his subsequent confession to Detective Cook.
The defense says that Molly McIntyre's meeting with
police officials proves that she was acting as an officer in her meeting
with Patrick. Patrick's attorney claims Molly, Todd, and the officials
all conspired to "circumvent and violate the defendant's right against
self-incrimination under the 5th amendment...the defendant's right to
Miranda warnings, and the defendant's right to counsel." Patrick, the
defense claims, never would have confessed if his mother had not
promised immunity from the electric chair.
Prosecutors insist Molly McIntyre was not acting as a
police officer, but rather as a mother when she spoke to her son, and
the meeting was not a custodial interrogation requiring Miranda warnings.
They point out that Patrick was read his rights before he actually
confessed to Cook and waived them before his admission. Jurors will hear
the confession at trial.
Patrick McIntyre is charged with first-degree murder,
armed burglary with assault, armed arson, grand theft, and felony
cruelty to animals. If he is convicted, he could face the death penalty
while his mother will collect on a $5,000 police reward. But Molly
McIntyre is not concerned about the reward: she just wants her son's
life spared from the death penalty.
Patrick J. McIntyre