ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- An Alexandria judge ruled Tuesday that the case against an Arlington County Sheriff's Deputy accused of first-degree murder is going to a grand jury.

Craig Patterson is accused of shooting and killing 22-year-old Julian Dawkins in May.

The parents of Dawkins left the Alexandria courthouse relieved that the judge found there was enough evidence against Patterson for the case to move forward.

"We are just thankful to God that the judge did make the decision that she did make," said Curtis Dawkins, Julian's father.

During Tuesday's preliminary hearing, defense attorneys for the Arlington County deputy claimed he did it in self-defense.

According to the 911 call played in court, Patterson told an Alexandria dispatcher, "I just had a young man pull a knife on me and I shot him."

However, a crime scene investigator testified that Dawkins' switchblade knife, which was found in his pocket, was closed.

"I truly feel like it was premeditated and that 911 call showed that even more to me," said Gwen Prattmiller, Julian's mother.

Witnesses gave conflicting accounts of what happened right outside Dawkins' Alexandria home shortly after midnight on May 23rd. One testified he saw the two men arguing and that Dawkins chased the off-duty officer down the street. But another said Dawkins simply told him to leave the neighborhood. Either way, Patterson returned to the home a few minutes later with his badge, handcuffs, and a gun. Friends of Dawkins who filled the Alexandria courtroom say the 17-year veteran should have walked away.

"He could have just left and stayed home and not returned to the scene. According to the witnesses, he came back looking for Julian and he murdered him in cold blood," said Eric Wilhoit, Dawkins' friend. "We call Julian the Trayvon Martin of Alexandria."

Patterson is currently being held without bond. The grand jury will convene on Monday.

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