Archive for Friday, May 23, 1997

RAPE SUSPECT DISAPPEARS BEFORE TRIAL

May 23, 1997

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For the secondtime in the past six months, a student suspected in a Douglas County sex crime has fled the state.

A former Haskell Indian Nations University student slated to face a jury this week for the October rape of another Haskell student has reportedly left Kansas.

Gabriel J. Patterson, 24, was the second local student suspected in a 1996 sex attack to leave the area before a trial. Federal authorities still are looking for Thomas T. Sun, 28, a former Kansas University student charged with the November kidnapping and repeated sexual assault of his girlfriend.

A district arrest warrant has been issued for Patterson, though federal authorities have not yet joined the search. Douglas County Assistant Dist. Atty. Marlon Williams received an anonymous phone call Tuesday night informing him the suspect's attorney didn't know where he was.

The trial was scheduled to begin Wednesday morning. Patterson, originally from California, last appeared in court during a Feb. 10 arraignment.

His attorney, Ed Collister, reportedly said Wednesday that Patterson had left the state.

"It's very difficult when you get ready for the trial and the suspect doesn't show up," Tonkovich said Thursday.

The attack took place Oct. 8 in a vehicle on the Haskell campus.

The victim in the reported rape, now 19 years old, was flown to the area from a remote Alaskan village where she now lives.

Tonkovich said not only was the victim "hoping to put this chapter of her life behind her," but the plane ticket ($1,600) cost taxpayers more than the entire recent murder trial of Damon L. McCray, convicted in February of murder.

District Judge Paula Martin had set Patterson's bond at $7,500. The bond was revoked this week, and a $25,000 bond was set.

Patterson's name has been entered into a national crime database, and other law enforcement agencies will be notified of his disappearance. Patterson will be extradited to Douglas County if he is located.

According to state statute, rape is considered the same level felony as second-degree murder. If convicted, Patterson would face a minimum of 16 years, two months with the Kansas Department of Corrections.

Thomas Sun has not been seen in district court since Dec. 3, when he was released on $50,000 bond. Sun is now a federal fugitive, wanted for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Sun was charged in November with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated criminal sodomy after he allegedly held his 19-year-old girlfriend, also a KU student, in his dorm room for more than a day.

Sun's family reportedly lives in California.

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