SW Michigan man who turned himself in in South Bend convicted on one of two murders

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(Photo supplied/Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A man charged with killing two people in two counties in southwestern Michigan has been convicted of first-degree murder in the first trial.

The verdict against Zachary Patten was returned Monday in a Kalamazoo County court. He was convicted of killing Graciela Portillo-Esparza last summer.

Patten didn’t deny what happened but told police that he was aiming for the victim’s brother. He now faces an automatic life sentence without a chance for parole.

Patten is also charged with murder in St. Joseph County. Police say he drove about 30 miles after killing Portillo-Esparza and shot his ex-wife’s husband.

The prosecutor told jurors that Patten “almost appeared to be a man on a mission” last July. He was arrested in the South Bend area after voluntarily walking up to police at a Martin’s.

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