The man accused more than two years ago of shooting at St. Augustine Police Officer Lora Vaughn will wait until December to stand trial for his crime to allow public defender, John W. Morris, more time to prepare his defense. This is the third motion for continuance at Morris’ request.
Although 34-year-old Charles Deonte Patten is facing other weapons charges related to the June 28 2015 incident, for the purposes of this trial, they have been severed from the single charge of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, a first-degree felony. The disposition of the additional charges will be made later.
Just after 2:00 a.m. the night of Patten’s arrest, police responded to a report of gunshots heard near O’Steen’s Restaurant on Anastasia Boulevard. When Vaughn arrived, emergency lights activated, she spotted Patten standing in the alley. Officer Vaughn trained a spotlight on him and says that he fired a single gunshot at her.
After the shot was fired, Vaughn “took evasive action by driving the vehicle forward,” according to her affidavit. Patten fell backward, firing a second shot. He was taken into custody a brief time later without incident.
Over the course of the last 28-months, Patten has had at least three court-appointed attorneys (including two from the Public Defender’s Office) and has tried representing himself twice.
Circuit Judge Howard Maltz granted Patten this last-minute motion to continue the trial after Morris explained to the court that his office had only been reappointed to the case in late September. Morris said that he had just become aware of roughly 500-pages of medical documents that needed to be reviewed to determine whether Patten is competent to proceed or whether he could mount a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity.
The case is scheduled for jury selection on December 11. Patten remains in custody until the trial in lieu of $1,110,000. bond.