MADISON — After her husband died, Nicole Hayes moved from Madison to Fort Atkinson, hoping to raise her 3-year-old son, Julian Patterson, in a smaller, safer community.
However, in an ironic and unfortunate twist, Patterson, 19, was fatally shot in Fitchburg in March 2018 in a drug deal that turned lethal.
The youth who shot Patterson, Joshua B. McInnis, now 19, was sentenced Monday in Dane County Circuit Court to 21 years in prison and five years on extended supervision.
McInnis previously had pleaded guilty to first-degree reckless homicide, which Judge John Hyland said, prevented him from receiving a life sentence.
Hayes told Hyland that her life “will never be the same ... and the pain (of losing her son) will never cease until the day I die.”
Patterson graduated from Fort Atkinson High School and hoped to move to Portland, Ore., start a real estate firm and get married, Hayes said.
He was a kind and courteous person who visited residents at a nursing home, regularly gave money to homeless people and checked on the welfare of a “neighborhood drunk,” she told the judge.
But McInnis took Patterson’s dreams and hopes when he took away his life, Hayes said.
“I hate you … I want you to suffer,” she said to McInnis.
Hayes said she didn’t believe McInnis was remorseful about causing Patterson’s death, but only acknowledged it to receive a lesser sentence.
McInnis was one of three “hoodlums” with prior convictions for violent offenses who should have been in jail in March 2018 instead of setting up a drug robbery.
“My son lost his life due to the negligence of the system,” said Hayes.
According to the criminal complaint, Patterson was accompanying SMARhis former girlfriend, Khariyhana Martin, who arranged to sell marijuana worth $700 at a Fitchburg apartment complex.
Martin thought she would meet Travon Jackson at the complex. Instead, McInnis and Gary C. Mays Jr., who neither Martin nor Patterson knew, came out of a building and got into the minivan Patterson drove. McInnis and Mays didn’t know Patterson would be with Martin until Patterson drove up in Martin’s minivan.
Once inside the minivan, McInnis pointed a gun at Patterson and demanded marijuana. Mays, who was in the minivan behind Patterson, grabbed one of Patterson’s pockets and asked if he had anything else.
When Patterson replied that he had nothing else, Mays began to hit him while McInnis continued to point the handgun at Patterson.
Patterson fought back, but was pinned against a door before escaping outside and moving behind the van.
Martin said she had the marijuana in her lap and McInnis was trying to take it from her. Patterson told Martin to let it go, which Martin said she eventually did.
Both Mays and McInnis followed Patterson behind the van, where they continued to fight.
Martin said Patterson was knocked to the ground and McInnis, while standing over him, fired a shot.
Both men fled.
A medical examiner later determined that Patterson died from a single gunshot wound to the arm and torso.
Assistant Dane County District Attorney William Brown picked up on Hayes’ remarks to Hyland, saying McInnis, Mays and Jackson were gang members suspected of committing numerous violent offenses before Patterson’s murder. Jackson, who wasn’t at the complex during the shooting, pleaded guilty to being a party to the crime of armed robbery and was sentenced last year to five years in prison
Jackson testified at Mays’ trial earlier this year and “made up a story that couldn’t possibly be true” about the planned robbery and could be prosecuted for perjury, Brown said.
“They lie for each other and I expect no less today,” Brown cautioned Judge Hyland.
Brown asked Hyland to impose a 25-year prison sentence followed by five years on extended supervision.
Brown based his recommendation on McInnis never holding a job, having had numerous prior contacts with police, the “gravity” of the offense and getting justice for Patterson.
“(Patterson) was killed over drugs that weren’t his by someone he didn’t know,” Brown said.
McInnis apologized, saying he didn’t intend to kill Patterson.
“It was a mistake … I was scared … I’m sorry every day of the week,” he said.
McInnis’ attorney, Michael Covey, asked for an eight- to10-year sentence, saying McInnis’ lack of intent and youthful age didn’t warrant 25 years in prison.
McInnis confessed “rather quickly, ... which is a step toward rehabilitation,” he said, adding that McInnis has had mental health issues, including being hospitalized for an unsuccessful suicide attempt.
Hyland agreed that McInnis didn’t intend to kill Patterson, but said he still came to the drug deal with a loaded firearm and used it.
“You recklessly caused the death of Mr. Patterson and did so without regard for human life,” Hyland said, defining what constitutes first-degree reckless homicide.
Hyland said he believed McInnis’ remorse for his actions was genuine and didn’t deserve to be in prison for the rest of his life.
Co-defendant Mays was tried in connection with Patterson’s murder in January, but jurors couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict. The case is set for retrial June 25.