A fired supermarket worker who in a journal wrote about cutting up coworkers and kept a hatchet and knives in his car pleaded guilty Friday to making terroristic threats.
Superior Court Judge William Rumer sentenced Gregory Thomas Patton, 55, to 10 years' probation on the condition he continue his mental health treatment. A psychiatrist testified Patton presents no threat to himself or others.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Cooley remained unconvinced of that, and in court she read from journal entries in which Patton described hiding knives under his shirt as he entered the 6770 Veterans Parkway Winn-Dixie and stabbed a coworker multiple times. He wrote that he would sit on that body while shouting a second coworker's name along with "nonsensical stuff in my different voices."
He also went into detail about where a third coworker usually parked, and wrote that he first would use an ax from his car floorboard on her before using a knife.
He bragged about such schemes to some of his associates, who reported his bizarre statements to management. He aroused more concern when he told coworkers that were he ever fired, he would go on a shooting spree or blow up the store.
Store managers summoned police to escort Patton from the business when he was fired on Aug. 3, 2012. Police arrested him at his home the following Aug. 9, and after he consented to their searching his home, they found handwritten notes in which Patton wrote about killing two women he had worked with, officers said.
In Patton's car, detectives found the journal, a hatchet, a Bowie knife with a sheath, a kitchen knife, a rusty "survival knife" and clear plastic trash bags.
Detective Amanda Hogan said Patton told her, "I'm not lying to you: You probably saved one or two lives by stopping me now. Thanks."
Patton's record includes a 2006 arrest for stalking a woman who worked with him at a Publix supermarket. He was sentenced to a year's probation for that.
Police said his journal also contained references to that woman, who afterward moved to Auburn, married and had a child -- all noted in Patton's writings, evidence he still was tracking her.
Patton's court record also includes a letter from his brother, who says Patton's conduct is much different now that he's getting treatment for his mental illness. "He is still our dear Greg, but he is a different man to speak and be with," the brother wrote. "He is calm, clear, and steady in conversation. He does not labor us any more with his manic nonsense."
Judge Rumer referred the case to mental health court, where Patton will be monitored to ensure he maintains his treatment regimen.