Defense attorneys could argue self-defense in Dawkins case

Defense attorneys could argue self-defense in Dawkins case
Craig Patterson (File Photo)

By Erich Wagner

A circuit judge ruled Monday that the defense team of Arlington County sheriff’s deputy Craig Patterson must receive all police reports connected with shooting victim Julian Dawkins.

At the hearing — where Patterson was denied a third request for bail — defense attorney Megan Thomas argued that past altercations between Dawkins, 22, and police over alleged drug use and sale could be used as evidence in support of self-defense.

“The reason Mr. Dawkins was so confrontational with Mr. Patterson was because he was very territorial and possessive over his neighborhood,” Thomas said. “And that’s consistent with drug dealing and marijuana use.”

Thomas further cited a “blunt wrapper” found on Dawkins after his death as evidence that he possibly was a drug dealer.

Prosecutors have said previously that Patterson shot and killed Dawkins, a T.C. Williams graduate, during the early morning hours of May 22.

Witnesses said they saw the two arguing on the 100 block of Lynhaven Drive hours before the fatal incident. Patterson left the scene but allegedly returned with his handgun, shot Dawkins and then called 911.

Patterson was indicted by a grand jury on charges of murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony last month. At the hearing, a trial date was set for the week of December 9.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Sengel resisted the defense’s request for documents, arguing that Dawkins was never convicted on drug offenses — the charges were dropped — and his previous run-ins with authorities did not constitute violence toward police.

“The activities the defense seems interested with are not only not relevant, but you’d have to go back to 2006 or 2007,” Sengel said. “It’s a stretch to see how that information is relevant to the incident that happened earlier this year.”

But Judge William Hamblen authorized the release of the reports, noting that while helpful to the defense, the evidence may not be admissible at trial.

Hamblen also granted the defense with 40-hours worth of private investigator fees in order to track down and interview witnesses of the incident and people who were with Dawkins at a gathering before the shooting. The defense team had originally requested 100 hours.

“We have to be able to talk to people and investigate the case ourselves,” Thomas said. “We can’t do the things that an investigator can do in an expeditious time frame.”

After the hearing, Eric Wilhoit, a friend and unofficial Dawkins family spokesman, said the most important thing was the fact that Patterson would remain in jail until trial. Wilhoit said he and the family understand that the defense must have access to documents for a fair trial but is still confident, “without a shadow of a doubt,” of Patterson’s guilt.

“That’s not really a win, that’s just the law,” Wilhoit said. “He has the right to [what is guaranteed by] law. But none of that is relevant, and it won’t be admissible at trial.”