Bartlett murder suspect cries as alleged confession plays in court

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Bartlett man accused of killing his wife and then trying to cover up the crime cried Thursday in court as he heard tapes of his alleged confession to his father.

Thomas Pate's wife Micah disappeared last April.  Pate told Bartlett police his wife went for a jog and never came home.

Pate admitted he shot his wife and dumped her body on the banks of the Loosahatchie River on tape, but jurors may never hear Pate's confession to the crime.

One day after Micah Pate's disappearance, Thomas Pate was questioned by Bartlett detectives.  Eight hours into the interrogation, detectives were getting nowhere.

"He was basically uncooperative the whole time," said Det. Michael Martin.  "He wanted to speak to his father the whole time."

When Pate's father stepped into the interrogation room, things began to change and it was all caught on tape.

"You know I'll go to hell and back to help you," said Pate's father, Thomas Pate, Sr, "but I cannot help you if you don't tell me the truth."

In court Thursday, Thomas Pate, Jr. sobbed as he relived the emotional conversation between he and his father.

"Thomas, look at me," Pate, Sr. said.  "Where's Micah?"

Finally, Thomas Pate, Jr. confessed.

"Did you kill Micah?" Pate, Sr. asked.  "Yeah," Pate, Jr. replied.

Micah Pate's family wept in the courtroom as Thomas Pate, Jr. told his father where his wife's body could be found.

Thomas Pate, Jr's attorneys said his confession to his father should not be played for a jury because his father told him none of what he said that day would incriminate him.  A Bartlett investigator clarified that it could.

Prosecutors argued that both men knew the tape was rolling and Pate, Jr. had already been read his rights after failing a polygraph test.

Thomas Pate, Jr. also admitted he had been seeing another woman, but told his father they were never intimate.

A judge said he needed time to rule on whether the tape will make it to trial.

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