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Please free Ann Bender (Ann Maxine Patton) from prison

This petition had 1,304 supporters

On May 27, 2014, a Costa Rican court unfairly convicted Ann Bender (Ann Maxine Patton), a US citizen, to a 22 year prison sentence. She was convicted of murdering her husband, John Bender, when he in fact committed suicide in bed next to her on the night of January 8, 2010. There is documented history of suicidal ideation on John Bender's part including an e-mail introduced into evidence dated just a month before stating that, "I feel so f***ing horrible I want to kill everyone and then me...I deserve to die". There is also testimony from friends and family that he suffered from a bipolar disorder in addition to numerous other mental health issues.

Ann also suffers from a number of physical and mental ailments and is liley to struggle being in detention due to the level of treatment she requires. The overwhelming stress of years of wrongful litigation, compounded by the grief of having to re-live the most terrible tragedy (watching your spouse of 12 years commit suicide) is something I hope none of you will ever have to face.  

Ann Patton's civil rights in Costa Rica have been grossly violated. In addition to being unfairly convicted of murder, she has also been defrauded and manipulated by a trustee who's very duty as a fiduciary was to protect her interests. Instead, he took advantage of his position of trust and the tragedy of John's suicide to steal millions of dollars, all the while not abiding by the trust decree in which Ann is a beneficiary. Ann has not received a penny from the trust in over two years and has relied on the support of friends and family but there is simply nothing left to give. Nobody expected this, and certainly not to continue for almost 5 years.

This 22 year prison sentence was decided in a SECOND trial for the same charge. During the first trial in January 2013 she was UNANIMOUSLY acquitted by a panel of three judges. Costa Rica does not have a legal ban on double jeopardy, and although it is considered an option to have a second trial on appeal it rarely happens. This case is entirely about money, and nothing to do with justice. Not a single person is asking for justice for John Bender's death, not even his own parents who strongly opposed the prosecution of Ann. How often is there a murder case where even the family of the victim supports the accused?

All of Ann Patton's wealth has been taken from her in Costa Rica. She has no funds to defend herself from this gross violation of her civil rights and needs financial support. An appeal has been filed aghainst this unfair conviction. However, it is clear that based on her medical hisotry, Ann's odds of surviving a 22 year prsion sentence are very limited.

Also, donations are needed to help fund Ann's legal defense and save her life. The donation link is:
Any amount is appreciated and will help save the life of a woman who has given so much to this country and it's people.



I write this article with a heavy heart. During the late hours of last Tuesday (May 27, 2014) , I may have possibly said goodbye to my dear friend's wife, while she sat in a holding area in a wheelchair surrounded with enough armed police to make one think it was Charles Manson.
Ann Maxine Patton went on trial for the death of her husband last January,2013. She was acquitted. The judges were unanimous. This time the trial was over before it even started. I would like to note, I was a close personal friend of her husband. I testified at both trials, and like John Bender's parents, no one is calling for justice. John was seriously bipolar. This was well known. He suffered from serious depression, and since moving to Costa Rica, they had nothing but problems there. Her recent guilty charge, confirms what this was all about money.
In America, like most places, double jeopardy is not allowed. In Costa Rica, they do what they have to do in order to get the result they want. Before the first trial, Ann and John were no strangers to the Perez Zeledon Police and DA. In 2001, they were kidnapped by corrupt cops, very little or nothing was done to cops involved.
During the first trial, Ann was very nervous that she could not get a fair trial. She was acquitted. This should have been over. Luis Oses and Edgar Ramirez stopped at nothing to get an appeal. It was granted on the basis of the previous judges not looking at the "scientific evidence". It is like getting a bad test grade back with given an opportunity to take it over again. The two DA's this time focused on the ballistics, the "irrefutable proof" said Ramirez.  Ok, Let me tell you exactly what changed from the first trial to the second and you make the call:
The medical examiner in the first trial said it was possible that the victim committed suicide if he was ambidextrous. John was ambidextrous, this was well known. During this second retrial she changed her statement and said it was " impossible", but never said how she shot him. 100% impossible. How does that sound?  Does that seem ok? I should note she testified via teleconference the first time, this time she was in court.

The prosecution witnesses all changed or enhanced their statements from the first trial. You cannot go back and look at what they said.  Does that seem reasonable? You can go look at the records if you would like.
Luis Aguilar when asked to take the gun and show the court how it could have happened, he refused.
Did Ann change her statements or did any of us that testified in the first statements? Absolutely NOT!!
A new prosecution witness testified who had a major conflict of interest and was paid 6000.00 by the ex-trustee, Juan de Dios Alvarez, who was removed by the Costa Rican courts as trustee, but to date approximately $40 million is missing. Keep in mind, this report that the witness wrote was used by the trustee to get his hands on 15 million in life insurance money. Oses and Ramirez used his report. The judges were shown documents of the check cashed and a copy of the invoice. They not only allowed him to testify, but referred to his words in their verdict.  Again, you make the call?  Does this seem fishy?  I would use the words, downright corrupt.
The judges did not ask me, her brother, their neighbor, her medical doctor a single question. Does that seem fishy?  She did say this was a suicide. One would think you would at least ask some questions
At one point during the latter days of the retrial, Ramirez jumped out of his seat and called the judges into the back room with her attorney. As I was outside, I noticed 12 heavily armed police all of a sudden. We were later told that a " death threat" was called in, but no specifics. I found it strange that Ramirez all of a sudden found out about this. How was he told?  He was in his chair. No one came in the court room. His phone did not ring. Do you let someone know about a death threat via text, email or even better Facebook !  Later that day, two OIJ police women start hanging around.
On the day of the verdict, the closing arguments, they finished around 12:30. We were told to come back at 3 for a verdict. Assuming these judges had some lunch, they came back at 3 pm and read a 1hr long verdict. Can you write something that long and concise in 2 hours?  The best part was Ramirez calling a press conference 10 mins before the verdict was read. Those same OIJ police woman were now standing behind Ann before those judges came in, and myself, her brother, friends, neighbors had 6 OIJ surrounding us.
I think the only people in San Isidro that did not know about the verdict at this point was anyone who did not have a pulse !!
Lastly, there is so much more I could go into about ballistics and forensics. These are the same experts who never finger printed the gun. Do you think that might be a good place to start?  They sat there with their witnesses who now changed statements, proclaimed the distance to the shot, but  could not show how she did it. These judges were downright disrespectful, did not pay attention for the majority of the trial, and at the end remanded her into custody like an animal. They were nice enough to knock off 3 years of her sentence because of her medical conditions.
Folks, I was in utter shock seeing what I saw. Please keep in mind, there was never a motive. She waited three years to go to the first trial, she was acquitted. She did not leave CR. She knew they would appeal. She waited 15 months and sat for a second trial. This time she was not released on her own recognizance, pending an appeal. Just taken away like an animal.
I know that not all Costa Rican citizens are like this, but what I witnessed, this was a rigged game and always was. This is all about money, gems, land, and a big smash and grab job.
My name is Pete DeLisi. I was recently on the CNN piece, mentioned in the Outside online article, testified in both trials and what I have said is nothing but the truth..
I will monitor any questions asked and will answer immediately.
We are trying to save a woman's life at this point. 
I sincerely hope your new president who is intent on cracking down on corruption takes a good hard look at this.


Many of you have been moved by Ann's story and have asked me for details and how they could support. Thank you.

The following is part of the official verdict of Ann's first trial in January 2013 as transcribed by Reuters:


"This court unanimously, and applying the principle of in dubio pro reo (when in doubt, for the accused), moves to declare Anne Maxine Patton acquitted of all responsibility with regards to the homicide of John Feliz Bender that was attributed to her by the Public Ministry. It is ordered that all precautionary measures that had been imposed be removed".

Ann was acquitted. There was no motive. No evidence. Nothing.
I was present at the first trial. I saw and heard everything.
An appeal was immediately filed by the DA, resulting in the court of appeals ordering a retrial, which took place just now. Ann's testimony never changed, neither did the defense witnesses. She is innocent. Nothing has changed. However this time the new 3-judge panel read out a 1-hour verdict accusing her to be a monster who killed her husband, ordering 22 years in jail with immediate effect. This is pure insanity and a blatant miscarriage of justice. Ann never ran, she always told the truth. John committed suicide and she tried to prevent it. The police did a sloppy job at best: no finger printing of the gun for instance! And this is just one example. Discussions about the position of John's body abound. But Ann was taken away from the bedroom when help arrived. It is not her fault if the body, or the gun, were moved. By anyone. At anytime. A reenactment was organized by the police. Ann, the only witness, was absent and not even informed. The house was raided by police a few days after the suicide, and emptied of all its contents. Down to the microwave and fridge. Where are all these items now? Not important. Just goes to show the corrupt police work. There are inconsistencies everywhere. Again. No motive. No proof. Circumstantial evidence.

Everything about this is wrong. This is about corruption. Greed. Theft.

John's and Ann's money was, and is, in a trust. They earned their money together, chose to move from the US to Costa Rica. Did everything by the book. The Costa Rican trustee, a lawyer named Juan de Dios Alvarez, stole from them, from day one. John dying was the trustee's ticket to owning everything. The money, the refuge... He wanted Ann out of the way. And miraculously just got what he wanted. You work it out.

Ann completely collapsed after the verdict and is now in an ICU, gravely ill. I ask my friends, her friends, anybody who is interested, to hook up to her Facebook page, which her brother Ken is now running, giving news.

We, family and close friends, are doing everything in our power to end this nightmare. And we need all the help we can get. Thank you for your kindness, support and prayers. Please help make this story go viral. An innocent woman is dying and we can make this right. We can.

I will never give up.


The following link is a blog from an associate of John Bender.  Excellent information:

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