March 05, 2014
A Brunswick County jury on Tuesday rejected a second-degree murder charge and instead found Julie English guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the May 2012 death of her longtime boyfriend Michael Anthony Pate.
English, 49, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Claire V. Hill to 51 to 74 months in prison.
After nearly two years in custody, three full days of trial testimony and about 10 hours of jury deliberation, English, a hairdresser from Supply and mother of two grown sons, learned her fate Tuesday afternoon.
According to trial testimony, on May 27, 2012, after a day of partying for Memorial Day and Pate's birthday, Pate confronted Jeremy Staruch, the son of English's boss. Staruch and English had just returned to English and Pate's Oxpen Road home from collecting money for crack cocaine, English said on the witness stand.
English said Pate yelled at Staruch to leave and when she stepped between them, Pate punched her in the face, knocking her onto her back in the front yard. English said she got into her car to take herself to the hospital when on a whim she decided to drive into the stairs leading onto the porch of the home. In the process, she struck Pate.
English told the jury she was unaware she ran over Pate and only discovered as much when she got out of her car to figure out why she couldn't back the Cadillac up. Pate, 52, a father of five, died at the scene. The couple had dated on and off for 11 years
The prosecution argued that English intentionally ran down Pate and presented evidence at trial that English lied to 911 dispatchers and investigators when she initially recounted the details of the evening.
With credit for nearly two years in jail, English could be released as early as 2016.
"With sympathy for the Pate family's loss, we honor the fairness and integrity of the criminal justice system," English's attorney James Payne said Tuesday evening.
"We are grateful that the jury agreed with Julie that she had no malice in her heart for the man she loved."