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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- A former Arlington County sheriff's deputy was sentenced Thursday for the shooting death of an Alexandria man.

Last December, a jury found Craig Patterson guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Julian Dawkins. Thursday, a judge imposed the jury's recommended six-year prison sentence.

Patterson's attorneys claimed that he acted in self defense and was trying to arrest an angry, drunk and belligerent young man who was armed with a deadly weapon last May. They said there was no intent to kill or malice on the part of Patterson.

Toxicology reports show Dawkins had been drinking heavily and had smoked pot in the hours before he was killed.

At about 12:30 a.m. on May 22, Dawkins' girlfriend texted him to stop drinking, according to court testimony reported by the Washington Post. That's about the time Dawkins encountered Patterson, who was new to the neighborhood.

The two got into an argument over who had a right to be in the neighborhood, and Patterson claimed Dawkins came at him and chased him with a knife.

A witness said she heard Patterson tell Dawkins that he'd be back.

The prosecution said Patterson left and went to get his gun, handcuffs and badge. They say he came back and intentionally killed Dawkins because he was angry over being disrespected. That break in action when Patterson left is key to the case against him, said prosecutors.

After Patterson fired the one shot that killed Dawkins, Patterson called 9-1-1 and said "I just had a young may pull a knife on me, and I shot him."

When police arrived, they found Dawkins' knife folded up in his back pocket.

If Julian Dawkins was a threat to the neighborhood, prosecutors said all Craig Patterson had to do was dial 9-1-1 and Alexandria police would have responded.

Julian Dawkins was a much-loved young man, from a well-connected Alexandria family. He has a great uncle who's a judge in the city. Dawkins was a driver for Gwen Iffil on PBS "Newshour." She spoke at his funeral.

Patterson has had the support of many co-workers in the Arlington County Sheriff's Department and jail where he worked. More than a dozen fellow deputies came to support 44-year-old Craig Patterson in court.

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