Crime

Fatal beating at Macon cookout came after ‘trash talk’ over who could drink more alcohol

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Jurors here this week convicted a Macon man of felony murder and aggravated assault in the June 2018 beating of an automobile mechanic at a Father’s Day cookout.

The fatal blows came on the heels of a trash-talk exchange at the gathering over who could drink more alcohol, officials said.

The victim, Jeffrey Lorenzo “White Boy” Burke Sr., 55, died Sept. 9 last year of injuries he sustained at the June 17 cookout at the hands of James Christopher Patterson, the authorities have said.

In Bibb County Superior Court on Wednesday, Patterson, 32, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole — in Georgia, a mandatory term of 30 years behind bars before he can seek parole.

The deadly altercation happened on Astor Street, which parallels Emery Highway a couple of blocks north of the Coliseum Medical Centers on Macon’s east side.

In a statement announcing Patterson’s conviction, the Bibb District Attorney’s office said Burke and Patterson “engaged in some ‘trash talking’” during the Father’s Day gathering. A DA’s spokeswoman on Thursday said the trash talk centered on who could drink more alcohol.

“As the cookout came to an end,” the DA’s statement goes on, “Burke took some to-go plates to his truck. There, near the truck, Patterson struck Burke in the face, causing a broken nose, broken orbital bone and other injuries. Then Patterson and two unidentified suspects kicked and stomped on Burke.”

After a hospital stay of about two months, Burke died a few weeks later after he was sent home to recover from injuries that included multiple broken vertebrae, which left him paralyzed.

“Mr. Patterson showed no mercy the day he beat Mr. Burke to death,” District Attorney David Cooke said in the statement. “He not only ruined that Father’s Day, but every Father’s Day to come for Mr. Burke’s family.”

Joe Kovac Jr. covers crime and courts for The Telegraph with an eye for human-interest stories. A Warner Robins native, he joined the paper in 1991 after graduating from the University of Georgia.
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