Patterson Trial Testimony, Oct. 12, 2017
EDINBURG – The emotional pain on the face of “Lori” Suarez was plainly evident as she testified in state District Court Wednesday that she was now aware that her husband, former San Juan City Commissioner Heriberto “Eddie” Suarez, had been in a long-term adulterous affair with her “friend,” murder defendant Monica Melissa (Palacios) Patterson.
According to “Eddie” Suarez’s court testimony the day prior, the infidelity on his part as it pertained to Patterson began some time in 2014 and lasted right up until the PSJA grad was arrested in August 2015 and charged with the capital murder of 96-year-old McAllen resident Martin Knell so she could gain access to his approximate $1 million estate (cash, stocks, and real estate).
“Lori” Suarez said she met Patterson through her husband, who had been one of the accused murderess’s high school classmates.
The Advance News had no presence at Tuesday’s court session, but according to a source who was in court Oct. 10th, “Eddie” Suarez appeared to be more than a tad hostile when questioned by prosecutors, often waving his hands around as he answered questions posed to him by Assistant Criminal District Attorney Joseph Orendain. One of which was: Does your wife know about the affair?
To which, Suarez replied, in animated fashion (paraphrasing): Yeah, I told her this morning; is that what you wanted to hear? Are you happy now?
The Advance has requested a full court transcript of both “Eddie” Suarez’s testimony and that of McAllen Attorney Mark Talbot who was the lawyer who exercised the legal documents Dec. 8, 2014, that basically gave Patterson complete control over Martin Knell’s life and assets. Those documents included a medical power of attorney, a durable power of attorney, and the Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Order that Patterson waved in the face of paramedics Jan. 28, 2015 outside Knell’s home, telling them to quit trying to bring the decedent back to life as he was lying in the ambulance while live-savers tried to revive him.
After officials on the scene reviewed the DNR, efforts to save Knell’s life came to a halt.
Two weeks later, Dec. 22, according to a civil lawsuit filed against Patterson by Martin Knell’s Estate, the decedent’s Last Will and Testament was executed, leaving the bulk of Knell’s Estate to Patterson. According to the civil suit, it was Patterson who hired Talbot, someone whom Knell had allegedly never before met, to work up all of the legal documents. Knell’s previous Will had been drafted by another McAllen-based law firm. Instead of returning to the original firm, however, Patterson allegedly steered Knell in Talbot’s direction.
“Lori” Suarez’s testimony, Wednesday, however, had to do with personal relations and work; not legalities.
Admitting that she now knew that the woman (Patterson) whom she had considered a friend had been in a long-term sexual relationship with her husband, Suarez appeared pained to have to recount the entire episode before a packed courtroom.
For example, Orendain asked “Lori” Suarez if she was aware that her husband had accompanied Patterson to Las Vegas prior to Knell’s murder.
“Yes,” she said.
What she apparently didn’t know, however, were the conditions under which the Sin-City trip had occurred.
According to our source, “Eddie” Suarez testified Tuesday that he had gone to Vegas with Patterson to help care for Martin Knell. That was his story, and he was sticking to it. Apparently, the 96-year-old WW II vet had suddenly developed a desire to gamble.
Prior to the trip, however, complications developed.
Apparently, if Suarez’s testimony is to be believed, before the plane departed, however, according to the former San Juan city commissioner, Knell became sick. Still, Patterson departed the local airport with not only her illicit lover on board, but she also took her mother-in-law along for the ride as well. According to “Eddie” Suarez’s testimony Tuesday, as recounted by our source, he sat behind Patterson and her mother-in-law, and apparently, the two were never introduced.
Implicit in all of this, of course, is the notion that even though Knell got sick and couldn’t make the trip to Vegas, Patterson and Suarez went anyway. Was Patterson’s mother-in-law brought along to provide cover? Suarez was apparently never asked that question.
Patterson and her mother-in-law shared one room, while Suarez bunkered down in a nearby room inside Caesar’s Palace, according to his testimony Tuesday.
When Orendain asked Suarez if he and Patterson had had “sexual relations” during the Vegas trip in the room where he was staying, Suarez said something like “Nope.”
Meaning, at home, Patterson and Suarez were lovers, but in Vegas, the lovemaking was a no-go.
Once The Advance gets a copy of the full court transcript concerning the testimony from both “Eddie” Suarez and Attorney Mark Talbot, their respective stories can be better told.
The Adulterous Affair
Left in the wake of Suarez’s admission of guilt on Tuesday, was his wife, “Lori,” as she sat in the witness stand Wednesday in Noe Gonzalez’s 370th state District Court. Like any woman looks who has just learned that her husband was cheating on her with a woman she considered a friend, a personal confidant, no less, she looked blind-sided by the revelation.
She said that her husband got paid for doing odd jobs around the Comfort House, and so did she, mainly helping Patterson -- whom she considered a friend, she said -- with QuickBooks. Suarez would cut payroll checks and help Patterson get caught up with payroll taxes, which were past-due.
“I’d do anything to help her,” said Suarez, unaware that her “friend” was stabbing her in the back all the while by “sleeping” with her husband of many years.
Wait a minute. QuickBooks was working?
Based on previous court testimony by at least two former Comfort House board members, the reason that Patterson could never turn over the “financials” to her board of directors was because QuickBooks had either “crashed,” or she was “having trouble with it.”
Well, not according to “Lori” Suarez’s testimony Wednesday. According to her, QuickBooks was working just fine, even though she did admit that she was never privy to all of Comfort House bank accounts.
(So), was QuickBooks working? asked Orendain.
“Yes,” said Suarez.
During the day, Suarez worked for the CPA firm that did the 2014 fiscal year financial audit for Comfort House, even though she testified that she played no part in the audit. After work, she would drive to the McAllen hospice and do the contract work for which she was paid. The work included driving to Comfort House once or twice a week, said Suarez. After she helped Patterson get caught up with past-due payroll taxes and file the quarterly reports, however, her work there only included figuring payroll.
A couple of times, in a sad twist of irony, Suarez and her husband would have dinner with Patterson and her respective spouse. Sure, Suarez admitted, she and her husband were having marital difficulties, but Patterson had advised her that basically, the two should stay married.
“Lori” Suarez and Patterson remained friends until the murder defendant was arrested and charged with capital murder in August of 2015. As previously mentioned near the top of this story/column, it wasn’t until Tuesday, Oct. 10th, that Suarez learned that Patterson was really no friend at all.
One of Monica Melissa (Palacios) Patterson’s four defense attorneys, Fernando Mancias, did the cross-examination Wednesday (Oct. 11), which mainly centered around how she was treated by criminal investigators when she was questioned about what she might know about the Knell murder. At the time, she still didn’t know about the illicit affair between her husband and her “friend.”
“I was scared,” said Lori Suarez. “I didn’t know what I was doing there (at the sheriff’s office),” being questioned by criminal investigators looking into the murder of Martin Knell and Patterson’s alleged ties to it.