A dramatic move in an Alexandria courtroom Wednesday as Craig Patterson took the stand in his own defense.
The Arlington County sheriff’s deputy is accused of murdering Julian Dawkins May 22 while Patterson was off duty.
Since the trial’s start Monday, Patterson has sat in court relatively silent. But at 11 a.m. Wednesday, defense attorney Joseph King called on his client to testify.
Patterson described the early morning hours of May 22, telling jurors that he went on a walk shortly after midnight with his badge, gun, cell phone, keys and wallet.
While in the Lynnhaven section of the city, Patterson said, he ran into 22-year-old Julian Dawkins, who he described as intoxicated and a little aggressive.
Patterson testified that Dawkins questioned who he was and why he was in his neighborhood. A few minutes later, Patterson said, Dawkins pulled a knife on him.
"He took a step toward me ...,” Patterson told the court. “I started running, and he started chasing me ... I'm feeling I'm in danger."
Patterson said he then headed back to his car to grab only his handcuffs. He told jurors he was ready to make an arrest and went looking for Dawkins. The two met up again just a few blocks away.
Dabbing his eyes with a tissue, Patterson said, “[Dawkins] turned around, charged back at me and took a swing back at me ... I thought he had the knife in his hands. At that point I retrieved my weapon and fired."
"Did you know your shot was fatal?" King asked.
"No," Patterson replied.
"How did you feel at that point?" King continued.
Patterson responded, "I was in shock at that point."
The prosecution followed up and didn't go easy.
"You agree that you shot and killed Julian Dawkins?" prosecutor Bryan Porter asked.
"Yes," Patterson said.
"You intentionally shot and killed Julian Dawkins. This wasn't an accident?" Porter continued.
"Correct," Patterson answered.
Porter asked about the timing of his actions, specifically questioning why Patterson did not use his cell phone before running back to confront Dawkins.
"Did you think about calling the police at that point?" Porter questioned.
"I was going to call the police as soon as I got back to the young man to see where he's at to tell the police," Patterson replied.
But the prosecutor went on, "Why would you wait? Why didn't you call for backup, sir?"
"I've already answered that question," Patterson said. "I wanted to get eyes on him first before calling 911."
At times Patterson stumbled on his words. He admitted he'd only identified himself as law enforcement twice before killing Dawkins.
"It was moving so quickly I didn't give him another command," he said.
"Did you pull your badge and wave it?" Porter asked.
Patterson replied, "No."
Patterson had a lot of supporters take the stand on his behalf Wednesday, including his ex-wife, eldest son and several deputies from Arlington County.
Closing arguments take place Thursday morning, and then the jury will get the case.