A Kings County jury could not reach a verdict in the murder trial of Todd Pate, accused of slitting his estranged wife’s throat and leaving her in the family pool. The trial judge declared a mistrial and set a new trial date.
The jury on Monday deadlocked 11-1 in favor of first-degree murder, Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes said. He said his office would again pursue a first-degree murder conviction.
Kings County Superior Court Judge Donna Tarter set a new trial date of Oct. 17.
At a pretrial conference Tuesday, defense attorney Melina Benninghoff of Madera withdrew from the case and the judge appointed Steve Girardot of Visalia to represent Pate.
Three years ago, Melanie Pate, 42, was found floating in the family’s swimming pool with her throat slit. Todd Pate confessed to the homicide.
He called police and said he had just killed his wife and to come and arrest him, Benninghoff said during opening statements last week.
But the facts support a voluntary manslaughter verdict instead of first-degree murder, she said.
“It’s clearly a case where my client lost it,” Benninghoff told jurors.
A few days before her death, Melanie Pate had filed for divorce. The couple had a 12-year-old son, but he was not present when the homicide occurred.
Prosecutor Nicholas Schuller said during his opening statement that Todd Pate was supposed to go to work that day but purposely stayed home and killed his wife.