After eight years, Todd Pate has received his sentence for murdering his wife, while her family read statements expressing their grief and anger.
Pate was convicted in July for the murder of Melanie Pate as the two were going through a divorce. At the Kings County Superior Court on Wednesday, visiting Judge Edward Lacey rejected a motion for a new trial by Eric Hamilton, Pate’s attorney. He then gave Pate the mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison, plus an extra year added on by a weapons enhancement.
The toll inflicted on their son, Karter, was also relayed by Wendi Rocha, who added that he dealt with severe emotional hardships as a result of losing his mother at the hands of his father. The last statement was from Karter, who was not at the sentencing, but gave a statement for Executive Assistant District Attorney Phil Esbenshade to read aloud to his father.
“I don’t have much to say,” Karter wrote. “I hope you f–ing rot in prison.”
Karter was 12 at the time of the murder.
Several members of Melanie Pate’s family members and friends also confronted her murderer with written statements about what the victim meant to them, and how the death has impacted their lives.
“I have many good memories of Melanie,” said niece Dene Buckner. “But because of [Todd], there is a dark shadow over those memories.”
“I’m starting to forget every memory I have of her,” said Kadence Latham, Buckner’s daughter, who was 9 when the murder happened.
Also speaking at the sentencing was friend Karin Timmerman, who relayed the amount of time between the murder and that current moment — 2,886 days in total — and the emotional toll of waiting for justice in that time.
“We’ve been broken and he doesn’t care,” Timmerman said. “He demonstrated that over 2,886 days.”
Timmerman then went on to address Lacey in regards to Pate’s sentencing.
“Please hold him to his wedding vows, when he promised to protect her from all evil,” she said.
Afterwards, Pate was given the opportunity to speak, crying the entire time.
“I’ve done something horrible and awful. That morning, I took Melanie’s life,” he said. “It’s wrong, what I did. I want to apologize and I have to.”
He also reflected on his son, and thanked the people in Karter's life who have supported him over the last eight years.
“He will have a scar — or a wound — that he will have for the rest of his life because of what I did.”
“We’re very pleased that justice was served, though we can never bring back Melanie Pate,” said Esbenshade, who led the prosecution in the case. “And it’s obvious Melanie Pate was a treasure not just to her family, and not just to her friends, but to this entire community.”