Brother of OSU arson suspect says police got the wrong guy

By JOHN McCARTHY, Associated Press Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ron Patterson says he feels sad for the families of the five college students killed in a fire that his brother is accused of setting.
He's convinced his brother is innocent.
"I love him and I pray for him every night," Patterson said Monday after Franklin County Municipal Judge Steven Hayes denied bail to his brother, Robert Lucky Patterson (pictured in court hiding behind lawyer, above).
"I'm sorry. I feel for you all," Ron Patterson said he would tell the families if given the chance. "I mourned for them when the fire did happen. It's sad to see someone lose their life."
The denial of bail followed testimony by a detective who said Robert Patterson had threatened witnesses to the April 13 fire at a three-story rooming house near Ohio State University.
Patterson had threatened to set fire to the homes of at least two people, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said.
"All these people know each other. They all lived in the same area," O'Brien said.
Patterson was charged Friday with five counts of aggravated murder, three counts of attempted aggravated murder and nine counts of aggravated arson for setting the fire that killed two Ohio State students and three from Ohio University.
Police Detective Mike McCann testified at Patterson's bail hearing that Patterson had "offered to make at least one of the people disappear." He would not elaborate after the hearing.
Patterson, of Columbus, did not speak during the five-minute hearing.
His public defender, Mitchell Adel, said Hayes denied them the opportunity to present evidence as to why bail should be set or to question McCann.
"We wanted to question the witness, but the judge wouldn't allow it," Adel said.
Instead of wearing the type of loose-fitting corrections jumpsuit worn by other inmates, Patterson on Monday wore a thick green sleeveless tunic that fell to his knees and attached at the shoulders with Velcro.
A jail spokeswoman described the garment as a "suicide gown" intended to make it more difficult for an inmate to hurt himself.
She said Patterson is under suicide watch.
Asked after the hearing if he was concerned about whether his brother could try to take his life, Ron Patterson said, "A little bit."
Police said Patterson was trying to steal stereos from cars when he got into a confrontation with someone in a parking lot behind the house, where about 80 people were celebrating the 21st birthday of one victim.
O'Brien said Patterson was charged while meeting with police on Friday.
"He met with them (police) when they asked him to meet with them. I can't get into any statements," O'Brien said.
Patterson met with the police or the FBI at least four times, O'Brien said. There were no other suspects.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)