Updated at 6:39 p.m.
By Erich Wagner (File photo)
Arlington County sheriff's deputy Craig Patterson was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter Friday afternoon in the May slaying of 22-year-old T.C. Williams graduate Julian Dawkins.
The Alexandria Circuit Court jury did not convict Patterson of the more serious charges of first- or second-degree murder in the case, after around nine hours of deliberation. The jury recommended that Patterson receive six years in prison for the crime.
Following the sentencing recommendation, Dawkins' mother, Gwen Pratt-Miller said the verdict "absolutely [did] not" do her son justice.
"I have to believe that if my son had shot Mr. Patterson under the same circumstances, he'd be facing life in prison right now," she said.
Patterson claimed that he acted in self-defense when he shot Dawkins in Lynhaven in the early morning hours of May 22.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter read a statement to reporters following the sentencing recommendation, stressing that the jury did find that Patterson "unlawfully and intentionally" killed Dawkins.
"My thoughts are with the friends and family of Julian Dawkins, and I hope they can find some modicum of solace in the verdict," Porter said.
Pratt-Miller said she did not fault Porter in the slightest for Patterson not being convicted of murder.
"Mr. Porter put forth everything he had in prosecuting this case," she said.
When Judge William Hamblen read the verdict, members of the audience began crying almost immediately.
During a sentencing hearing immediately following the verdict Pratt-Miller broke down on the witness stand. Four of the twelve jurors also began to cry as she spoke.
"He had plans to own his own business as an [auto] detailer," she said through sobs. "His birthday was on Mother's Day of this year, and I bought him a power washing machine for his birthday. He never got a chance to use it."
Daneen Pratt, Dawkins' aunt, with whom he lived for two years until his death, said her family relives his killing every day.
"We live it every single day," she said. "We live a couple houses down from where it happens. We walk past that spot every single day where my nephew took his last breath."
The defense team called various friends and family of Patterson to speak to his character. His older sister, Janet Crump, said he was always there for advice and companionship.
"He's a better parent than I am," Crump said. "He's raised [his children] to be responsible people. I know they'll turn out very well."
And Craig Patterson Jr., the defendant's 19-year-old son, said his father was always there for him, even after his parents divorced.
"He is a great father," he said. "He has always been there for me. He is someone that I look up to and strive to be like."
Patterson will be formally sentenced on Feb. 6.