Sharon Patterson & Larketa Collier in court
During the interrogation, the girls gave conflicting accounts about what actually happened on the day in question. Initially, Larketa told investigators that she and Sharon planned the murder together. Nancy Youssef reported in a March 2004 Detroit Free Press article that Larketa told police that she planned to hit her grandmother with the hammer while Patterson choked her. Then Larketa turned up the radio to muffle her grandmothers screams.
Larketa claimed that although she was unable to actually administer the blows to her grandmother, an act that Sharon allegedly carried out instead, she did pour gasoline on the body and set it on fire. Later, during testimony, Larketa changed her story and said that Sharon threatened to kill her grandmother, but she didnt take it seriously until she heard screams coming from the room, Detroit Online reported. Larketa then purportedly tried to stop Sharon from killing her grandmother, but it was too late -- she was already dead. Larketa said that Sharon was the one who suggested setting the house on fire to conceal the crime, but that she doused the body with gasoline and set it on fire out of panic because she didnt want her mother to see the body when she came home.
Sharon gave an entirely different account of what occurred that day. At the time, Sharon lived in the house along with Larketa, her mother and grandmother. She told investigators that Larketas grandmother learned of their relationship and disapproved of it. As a result, she was thrown out of the house.
Sharon said that Larketa was so angry that her grandmother tried to break up the relationship that she murdered her. Sharon then said that Larketa burned the body. When investigators asked whether Sharon played any part in the murder, she flatly denied any involvement.
Sharon then changed her story. Courttv.com reported that the next day, Sharon admitted she lied when she denied attacking Bertha Atkins with a hammer. Furthermore, Larketa gave her the hammer and instructed her to hit the woman while she turned up the radio to drown out the screams. Then, without Sharons knowledge, Larketa set the body on fire to eliminate the evidence. Sharon claimed that when she asked why they committed the crime, Larketa replied that she hated the bitch, according to the article. To get their mind off the grisly murder, the girls went to the movies.
The girls, who were being tried as adults, pleaded not guilty to the charges that included first-degree murder, felony murder and arson. If found guilty, they faced a sentence of life in prison without parole. But if Larketa and Sharon both agreed to a plea bargain offered by the prosecution that involved pleading guilty to second-degree murder, they had a chance of receiving from 25 to 40 years instead. It was a chance the girls were unwilling to take.
In March 2004, the murder case went to trial at Wayne County Circuit Court. During the proceedings, both defendants testified, along with other witnesses, giving their most recent version of their story. However, neither girl was able to convince the two separate juries.
On March 25, the jury took only two hours to reach a verdict. They found both girls guilty of first-degree murder, but only Larketa was convicted of arson. On April 13, Sharon and Larketa were both sentenced to life in prison without parole. According to Courttv.com the girls were housed in different prisons. Larketa was sent to Huron Valley Womens Prison and Sharon to Robert Scott Correctional Facility. Despite their effort to stay together forever, in the end, their heinous crime kept them separated for life.