PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A man convicted of murdering his then-girlfriend’s 6-year-old son was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday.
Earlier this year, a jury earlier found Michael Patino, 33, guilty of second-degree murder in the 2009 death of Marco Nieves.
During the trial, the state showed the jurors text messages between Patino and Nieves’ mother, in which he told her he punched the boy because he needed to act more like a man.
Prosecutors said Patino used the boy as a punching bag, puncturing his bowel, which caused his death. The defense blamed the boy’s mother, claiming she failed to take her son to the hospital for about 15 hours after the incident, even after Marco vomited and lost consciousness.
“What kind of man beats a little boy? What kind of man lets the little boy suffer?” asked Superior Court Judge Netti Vogel.
Several of the victim’s family members cried in court as the judge described the horrific abuse.
Patino gave a statement through his attorney about how he had nothing but fondness for the boy.
“We were like father and son. Marco was like family and I considered him my son,” attorney David Cooper read. “I thought about the possibility of adopting him. I truly regret using such derogatory language toward Marco in those text messages.”
Judge Vogel didn’t buy it, however.
“My jaw remains dropped,” she said. “I just heard the defendant’s words read by his attorney, and not once did he apologize for beating him to death.”
The judge said Patino’s lack of remorse is one reason she sentenced him to life.
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin called Patino’s sentence appropriate.
“The defendant, six years ago, had a very cold, callous, and brutal day, and today he was held accountable for it.” he said. “He was more apologetic about some words he put into a text.”
Last month, a judge denied Patino’s request for a new trial.
Patino’s defense team plans to appeal the case to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.