The Dorchester man who stabbed West Roxbury resident Gregory Phillips to death near an Allston bar was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 15 years, after jurors convicted him of murder earlier today.
Phillips was a Brookline High graduate and was attacked after coming to his friend's assistance.
Corey Patterson, now 26, was found guilty of second-degree murder, and three counts of assault and battery on a public employee after three weeks of trial and about three days of deliberations, said a press release from Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley.
DA Spokesperson Jake Wark, said that about 20 minutes before returning their verdicts, jurors asked Judge Raymond Brassard if they could infer malice – a key element of murder – from the use of a dangerous weapon (the knife used as a murder weapon). Brassard told the jurors they were permitted to make that inference.
“This was a case that required close attention to the evidence and the careful application of the law,” said Conley. “Jurors heard from many witnesses at a chaotic scene, but they found the unifying facts: that this defendant picked a fight, pulled a knife, and used it to stab Gregory Phillips, who was unarmed and uninvolved in the conflict. This wasn’t sudden combat. This was murder.”
Brassard chose the mandatory sentence for second-degree murder, life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years. Patterson was sentenced to three two-year terms, concurrent with one another and the life term, for punching and kicking Boston Police officers who arrested him near the scene, after trying to retrieve the murder weapon.
Prior to sentencing, a brief statement from Phillips’ cousin, Pastor Conley Hughes, Jr., of the Concord Baptist Church, was read.
“His voice has been silenced, but his spirit will be remembered for longer than his 24 short years,” said Hughes, according to the DA's press release. “Our family’s faith is what we lean on, and that faith will sustain us in the seasons to come... We are sure today that justice has been done.”
On the night of the murder, Phillips, his roommate, and two female friends were celebrating at what was previously The Kells on Brighton Avenue early Nov. 8, 2009. As the bar emptied around 2 a.m., Patterson, who had been at the bar with his own group, approached a young woman and began making vulgar comments. She rejected him, and Phillips’ roommate told Patterson to leave her alone.
After verbally arguing, the two groups made their way around the corner to Harvard Avenue. Patterson punched Phillips’ roommate in the back of the head while Phillips was trailing behind the others, who came to his friend’s assistance. Assistant District Attorney Gretchen Lundgren proved there was pushing and shoving, and someone yelled, “He has a knife!”
Witnesses saw Phillips back away and Patterson throwing a punch at his chest, and evidence showed Patterson stabbed him in the heart. Phillips’ shirt began to soak through with blood, and after being rushed to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, he died of his injury.
Patterson and his group fled in a car driven by his cousin, but Patterson demanded to be taken back to retrieve the murder weapon, a folding knife with a blade about three inches long.
Boston Police on the scene stopped the car after witnesses saw Patterson go under a nearby vehicle to retrieve the weapon. Patterson fought violently with the officers who tried to take him out of the car, punching and kicking at them with the murder weapon still in his hands.