Craig Patterson guilty of voluntary manslaughter in Julian Dawkins' death
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) - The jury has recommended a sentence of six years in prison for Craig Patterson, an Arlington County Sheriff's deputy who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of 23-year-old Julian Dawkins this past May.
In response to the verdict, the victim's mother, Gwen Pratt Miller, was reeling from a double blow.
"I am very disappointed in the verdict. I don't have words for the verdict...Mr. Patterson took my past, present, and future from me...no amount of time or money will bring my son back."
Patterson had argued he committed the act in self-defense, but according to Bryan Porter, the Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney:
"The jury's verdict reflects its belief that Patterson intentionally and unlawfully shot and killed Mr. Dawkins."
"I was expecting second-degree murder at least," said Gwen Pratt Miller. "I might have been comfortable with that. For him to walk out of that courtroom showing no remorse and to only be sentenced to six years is just an outrage to me."
Despite the verdict however, jurors didn’t find that Patterson acted with malice. Dawkins’ mother says she believes they couldn’t get beyond Patterson’s badge.
"If the shoe was on the other foot, and my son had killed Mr. Patterson, he would be facing life in prison. Because he was a law enforcement agent -- I really believe it played a huge part in this situation."
The guilty verdict against Craig Patterson came down after several hours of deliberation by the jury, which got the case on Thursday after a 3 days trial.
Patterson's trial in the May 22 murder of Julian Dawkins began Monday and ended Thursday, with prosecutors and defense attorneys trading barbs over who was really to blame for the shooting.
Prosecutors alleged that the motive behind the shooting, which happened in a neighborhood just north of Del Ray, was that Patterson felt angry and disrespected by Dawkins.
Dawkins' family erupted into sobs when the verdict was read, and during the first testimony of the sentencing phase, his mother so overcome with emotion that she could not continue.
"He was my only child," Gwen Pratt Miller said from the stand. "He was all I had." Jurors also became overwhelmed, prompting the judge to put a halt to the proceedings.
Prosecutors argued all along that that the gap between the time that the suspect and victim fought an when the shooting happened - a period when Patterson allegedly went back to his house to get his badge, handcuffs and gun - was a chance for him to call 911 instead.
In rebuttal, Patterson's defense called Dawkins an "angry, drunk, belligerent man armed with a deadly weapon." A folding knife was found on Dawkins after the shooting, but there's a dispute over whether or not Dawkins threatened Patterson with it.
Official sentencing will be on February 6 at noon.