A man has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole after pleading guilty in the kidnapping and murder of his estranged girlfriend, whose body was pulled from a New Jersey creek.
Kenneth Patterson, 52, was scheduled to go on trial Monday in Bucks County Court but instead accepted a plea bargain that spares the possibility of the death penalty, the Bucks County Courier Times reported.
Prosecutors said 48-year-old Diane Corado of Falls Township was alive and tied up when Patterson tossed her off a Camden, N.J., bridge in December 2010.
"This was sheer brutality,'' Judge Alan Rubenstein said. "This death was slow and agonizing and excruciating. One wonders about the fear she experienced as she was beaten and terrorized.''
First Assistant District Attorney Michelle Henry said Corado's family agreed to the deal, which was contingent on Patterson giving a full account of events and telling authorities where to find the body, which was recovered earlier this year.
"This agreement, in the end, ensures that he will never see the light of day as a free man,'' Henry said. "It also spares her family from the endless rounds of appeals created by the death penalty in Pennsylvania.''
Patterson, of Doylestown, read a prepared statement to relatives of the victim saying "No words can convey the horror of my actions. ... Not a day goes by that I'm not overcome by guilt.''
He was also sentenced to a consecutive 32 to 65 years on convictions of kidnapping, burglary and other charges, a term that would go into effect only in the event of a successful appeal of the murder conviction.