Eddie Lee Patterson, 53, was granted parole during a Nov. 3 hearing of the State Board of Parole Hearings held at High Desert State Prison.
Patterson was found guilty of robbing Ceres stores in 1996.
During the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Fawn Smolak argued against Patterson’s release based on the violent nature of his crimes, history of substance abuse, lack of insight into his criminal actions and his history of prison rule violations, one as recent as 2014. The Board deliberated for about 20 minutes before finding that Patterson’s relapse prevention plan and his recently developed insight into the causes and effect of his substance abuse since a prior hearing made him suitable for parole.
Patterson has been in prison custody almost 23 years.
Patterson robbed a convenience store in Ceres on Aug. 29, 1996 in which he told the clerk “Give me everything in the register or I’m going to smoke you.” No weapon was seen or displayed. He fled the store after taking approximately $50.
He returned to the same store on Sept. 5, 1996, but covered his face in an attempt to avoid being identified. He placed his hand near his waist as if he had a gun and told the clerk “Give me the cash!” After getting only $25, Patterson left the store.
One month later Ceres detectives arrested Patterson who was on parole for Santa Clara County, but broke free from his San Jose parole agent that May. When interviewed by detectives, Patterson gave his brother’s name, “Gregory,” denied committing the robberies, denied absconding from parole or having ever been to state prison. When presented with the fact that his brother was in state prison, Patterson admitted lying. Patterson told police that he would not admit his guilt because he was a Three Strikes candidate.
Patterson was convicted on July 14, 1997 of robbery and admitted having prior “strike” convictions for residential burglary in 1985 and robbery in 1992. He was sentenced to serve 25 years to life in state prison.
In his first parole hearing in 2018, Patterson told the board that he was heavily into crack cocaine at the time, that he was a “product of my environment” and offered no other reasons for his continuing criminality since childhood. Commissioners then found that Patterson had little to no insight into the reasons why he chose the criminal lifestyle, had not created an individualized relapse prevention plan to avoid re-offending if released and his parole plans were insufficient, making him an unreasonable risk of danger to the community if released. Patterson was then denied parole for a period of three years.