Man guilty in first trial linked to 2 murders in SW Michigan

Feb 13, 2018

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 South Bend, Indiana, after voluntarily walking up to police.