Crime & Courts

Lancaster killer with Satan tattoo on face sentenced to life in prison

David Pate
David Pate

The Lancaster ex-con with “Satan” and white power prison gang tattooed on his face who stabbed a black man he had just met 39 times in 2013 and told his mother he “enjoyed it” was sentenced to life in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to murder.

David Adam Pate admitted that he lured Ricky James with wine after meeting James into some woods because “I just wanted to cut his dad gum head off.” Pate, 25, told police that he used a butcher knife “just like the one Michael Myers used in (the movie) Halloween,” then “I just pulled it out and stick it in his throat.”

Police found at least 20 knives, both store bought and homemade, and more than 20 masks in Pate’s home after he was arrested a month after the killing in November 2013 when children playing in Lancaster found James’s decomposed body under some brush. Pate told police that he went back to cover up James’s body the next day because he was tempted to kill again, saying “I went back to cover him up because I might want to go back there and kill somebody else.”

Pate, with prison stretches dating back to age 17 for burglary and other crimes, did not describe the killing in court but his videotaped confession was played in court. James’s two brothers described Pate as “the devil” in court and both said they hope Pate suffers in prison.

In the videotaped confession, Pate said that he tied James with a rope from neck to ankles so that he could drag the body away after the stabbing site, but was too drunk and tired to continue to try and drag James’s body to a nearby creek where it might never be found.

Police and prosecutors said that the crime was as brutal and heinous as any in recent memory. DNA linked him to the crime scene and Pate’s family told police that Pate was covered in blood and tried to burn his clothes afterward. After Pate was identified as a suspect -he was already in jail for disorderly conduct - he told his mother, “I remember everything. I made it a point to remember, because I enjoyed it.”

Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office Det. Spencer McInvaille said that even experienced police had not seen such a stone-cold killer in action before Pate, saying Pate “enjoyed what he did.”

Prosecutors said that Pate deserves to die in prison.

“This is an evil person here - if anybody deserves life in prison, it is David Pate,” said Randy Newman 6th Circuit Solicitor.

Pate’s lawyer, 6th Circuit Chief Public defender Mike Lifsey, asked that Pate be spared life in prison because he admitted guilt in the “horrible crime.”

But visiting Judge Dan Hall of York described the murder as “senseless, remorseless and emotionless” in sentencing Pate to the maximum of life in prison without parole.

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065