A jury recommended six years in prison Dec. 13 for a former Arlington County, Va. Sheriff’s Office deputy who shot a 22-year-old man to death following a May altercation in Alexandria, Va.
Craig Patterson, 45, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter by a 12-person jury presiding over a four-day trial that began Dec. 9. Patterson was charged with first-degree murder, but jurors found him guilty of the lesser offense instead. He will be formally sentenced by a judge on Feb. 6; that judge can reduce, but not increase, the jury’s recommended sentence.
The manslaughter conviction was not received well by Gwen Pratt-Miller, the mother of the victim, Julian Dawkins.
“He was my only child, he was all I had,” she said.
Miller’s tears disrupted the trial, and the judge informed the prosecution that it was improper to have the victim’s mother on the stand crying to the jury during sentencing.
“I think it was straight obvious Mr. Patterson cold-blood murdered my son,” Miller told reporters after Patterson received his sentence. Both Patterson and Dawkins are Black.
The jury’s options for sentencing were either a one-to-10 year sentence in a state penitentiary or zero-to-12 months at a local jail.
Chris Leibig, a defense attorney for Patterson, said that no good would come of sentencing Patterson, a former officer of the law, to a Virginia state prison. Conviction to a state prison was not fair for a person of Patterson’s background, Leibig said.
Patterson, who was off-duty at the time, shot Dawkins on May 22 after an altercation in the Lynhaven neighborhood of Alexandria. According to court testimonies, the men got into an argument over territory.
The jury determined that Patterson was not guilty of an additional charge of use of a firearm in commission of murder. However, he will no longer be able to work in law enforcement.
Patterson was a 17-year veteran with the sheriff’s office; before being placed on administrative leave, he was stationed in the records section of the office. Dawkins was a driver for “PBS NewsHour.”
Patterson has been imprisoned since May 30, when retired Judge William D. Hamblen of Prince William County, Va. denied him bail. The Supreme Court of Virginia earlier this year designated Hamblen to preside over the case to avoid conflict with any local judges, as Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Nolan B. Dawkins is related to the victim.