Tuesday, February 20, 2018
News Roundup

Son, convicted of killing dad, should be executed, Pasco mother says

NEW PORT RICHEY — Nearly two years ago, Dakota Clarke saw his older brother standing in the kitchen with a gun.

Clarke, then 15, had come out of a bedroom where he was playing video games after he heard a bang, a yell and two more bangs, he told lawyers during a deposition. His older brother, Patrick Clarke Jr., held a rifle at his waist. Their father lay on the floor, shot three times.

On May 9, Patrick Clarke Jr., 24, was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of his father. He received a life sentence in prison.

Not enough, if you ask his mother.

"I was upset because I wanted the death penalty for him," said Deborah St. Louis, 48, Dakota and Patrick Clarke Jr.'s mother. She had been in a partnership with their father, Patrick Clarke Sr., who died when he was 50, for 27 years.

Since the crime in May 2015, family life hasn't been the same.

Dakota Clarke, now 17, a senior at Anclote High School, doesn't sleep well because he checks on his mother every two hours, she said. Bulletproof windows installed in his bedroom and a house alarm with sensors around the yard help him feel safe.

He sees a psychiatrist to help with his severe depression, St. Louis said. They moved out of their house on Trafford Road in Holiday into another one in Holiday, but want to get even farther away.

"It's too many memories to always be right there," St. Louis said.

Despite the challenges, Dakota still manages to do well in school. He wants to go to college, perhaps to work in forensics.

"Because he basically lived a crime scene for two years," his mother said.

Through depositions taken before Patrick Clark Jr.'s trial, a picture emerged of a young man miserable in his situation.

Clarke Jr. and his father would argue all the time, Dakota Clarke told attorneys, about everything, big to small. Clarke Jr. would wait in his car after getting home from work as a security guard until his father was asleep so he could sneak into his bedroom undetected, thereby avoiding an argument.

Just two months before the shooting, St. Louis said, Clarke Jr. had been dishonorably discharged from the military. He apparently had a moral objection to the idea of killing people. He had joined reluctantly, at his father's urging, and faced disappointment when he returned home.

In the weeks leading up to the shooting, Dakota Clarke told attorneys, his brother began making statements about wanting to burn the house down. He said something to that effect to Dakota Clarke that morning, too.

"I repeatedly said, 'No. That is a very bad idea. Do not do that,' " the younger brother said during a deposition.

During trial, Dakota Clarke was forced to testify against his brother for four hours as a witness for the state, St. Louis said, a painful endeavor for the teen.

"But he said, 'You know what, I have to do this for Daddy,' " she said of her youngest son. "And he did it. He was a champ about it."

To the son who inflicted the pain, St. Louis said she has nothing to say. She hasn't spoken to him since he was arrested in Key West days after the shooting.

"Never," she said.

She doesn't even know to which state prison he has been transferred.

St. Louis said Clarke Jr. showed little remorse during the trial, which didn't do much to endear him to the jury. It returned the guilty verdict in just 15 minutes, St. Louis said.

The only remorse St. Louis showed her son at the sentencing hearing was regret that he wouldn't be put to death. That got him to react, she said.

"I saw his head drop, like he couldn't believe I said that," the mother said.

But for St. Louis, the effect is the same. She only has one son now.

"(Clarke Jr.) is dead to all of us. That is no longer my son."

Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or [email protected] Follow @josh_solomon15.

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