Witnesses recount night of Dawkins killing

Witnesses recount night of Dawkins killing
The Alexandria Courthouse. (File Photo)

By Erich Wagner (File photo)

Prosecutors laid out their case against Arlington County sheriff’s deputy Craig Patterson Tuesday, calling on Lynhaven residents to recount what they saw and heard the night T.C. Williams graduate Julian Dawkins was shot to death.

While tearful accounts of the 22-year-old Lynhaven resident’s death dominated parts of the second day of the murder trial against the 17-year veteran, Patterson’s defense team pushed back, attempting to find inconsistencies with prior testimony as well as establish Dawkins’ level of intoxication at the time of his death.

Sheronda Brown, Dawkins’ neighbor, said she had been in bed dozing off with the television on in the early morning hours of May 22. She heard the initial conversation between Dawkins and Patterson escalate into an argument, until Dawkins chased Patterson down the street.

Brown said after she thought the altercation had ended, she returned to her bed, only to hear a “pop” sound less than 10 minutes later.” She said there was “no conversation” leading up to the pop.

“After [I got Dawkins’ aunt, Daneen Pratt], I went to the yard to help Julian and see where he was shot,” she said. “It was my intention to help him, but I didn’t see where he was shot because he was laying face down, and his phone was laying next to him.”

Defense attorney Megan Thomas questioned Brown’s recollection of events, noting that in an earlier hearing, she had testified that she had been asleep when the argument first began.

“You didn’t say you were dozing off at the preliminary hearing,” Thomas said. “You said you were asleep.”

Reginald White, who lives around the corner from the shooting on Wesmond Drive, said he saw Patterson walk past his porch three times that night. The first time, White said the defendant was walking toward the area of the incident, and then after White heard an argument, Patterson jogged back down the street, but he dropped his keys, and he stopped to pick them up.

“After that I just saw him go into a yard, and after another three to five minutes, he came back up, walking in the middle of the street,” White said. “That’s when I noticed he had a pistol…and I heard a gunshot like two to three minutes after that.

“[When] he had bent down to pick up his keys, I did not see a gun on either side of him.”

Chris Leibig, an attorney representing Patterson, asked White why he did not report what he saw to police for several days following the incident, despite visiting the scene briefly on the night of the shooting. And he asked about how White followed the case in the following days.

“I saw that there was some stuff on the news, but I didn’t want to read or hear about it,” White said. “[On the vigils] yes I knew what was going on but no [I did not participate.]”

Kim Bragg, the mother of one of Dawkins’ childhood friends, said Dawkins was coming to her house when he encountered Patterson. She was on the phone with Dawkins, she said, when she heard a large “pow,” but said she heard no conversation or speech in the background prior to the gunshot.

“I heard it in my ear and from outside,” Bragg said. “I still hear it every day.”

The defense team also asked expert witnesses about Dawkins’ state of intoxication at the time of his death. Toxicology expert Dr. Carol O’Neal, who performed the blood and vitreous eye fluid tests in the Dawkins case, said he had a blood alcohol content of .15, as well as a “fairly low” level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his system.

Thomas asked O’Neal about whether the vitreous test – which registered a .19 – indicated Dawkins had become increasingly intoxicated in the hours before the shooting. But O’Neal said likely just the opposite had happened.

“It’s kind of a bell curve,” O’Neal said. “That [the vitreous number] is about 25 percent higher means that his alcohol content was more than likely on the downside, decreasing. His last drink had probably been at least a couple of hours prior to his death.”

O’Neal said Dawkins had probably last used marijuana around five or six hours prior to his death.

The defense team will begin to present its case Wednesday morning. The trial is anticipated to run until Friday.