WOODSTOCK — Three months after a jury trial, Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp on Wednesday upheld the jury’s recommendation and sentenced an Edinburg man to life imprisonment for the rape of a 16-year-old girl.
Patrick “P.J.” Wakeman, 40, was found guilty of one of two counts of rape in May. The jury recommended a life sentence after hearing how the victim was affected by the crime. Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola during the sentencing phase of the trial brought to the jury’s attention another case involving Wakeman — a 2014 conviction of consensual sex with a minor older than 15.
William Allen III, Wakeman’s attorney in the most recent case, filed a motion to set aside the jury’s verdict. His argument was focused largely on the evidence in the case not being credible, noting that the Y-chromosomal DNA was not a direct identity of his client but rather indicated that he could not be excluded as a possible match.
Allen then suggested that the statute pertaining to the credibility of DNA evidence does not specifically refer to Y-chromosomal DNA, and so it should not have been included in the trial. Hupp, maintaining his ruling from a pre-trial motion on the issue, said that he does consider Y-chromosomal DNA to be DNA evidence as sanctioned in the statute. Hupp then denied Allen’s motion to set aside the jury’s verdict.
During the sentencing proceeding, the victim’s mother testified that the victim was no longer her “once vibrant daughter,” and that the victim carried the trauma of this event with her while trying to live her life like a normal teenager.
“As a mother,” she said, reading a statement she prepared, “what hurts the most is there’s nothing I can do to make it better.”
The defense called Wakeman’s mother to the stand to speak to Wakeman’s character, and she told the court that her son is “a joy to my heart,” and a “kind and generous soul.” She talked about Wakeman always lending a hand and being involved in charitable work throughout his life, even while he has been incarcerated in Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail. She also said that she still believes her son, who still maintains his innocence.
“Judge, I don’t believe he did this, and I ask you to have mercy,” Wakeman’s mother pleaded to the court.
Wakeman’s wife also testified on her husband’s behalf, speaking to how the charges have affected her and their children, saying that her children have been heartbroken by their father’s absence. She read a letter from one of their children, asking the judge to bring Wakeman back to them. Wakeman’s wife asked the judge for justice because Wakeman was a very involved father in their children’s lives. Wakeman firmly wiped tears from his eyes during his wife’s testimony about their children.
“That is the world’s hardest thing to go through when you can’t take away your child’s pain,” his wife said.
Campola argued that the jury’s verdict is “almost sacrosanct,” and should be upheld. He emphasized that the jury heard the testimony about how the charges affected Wakeman’s family, and about Wakeman’s 20 years of military service, but still recommended a life sentence in the case.
In the sex offender evaluation, Campola noted, Wakeman blames the victims in both of the cases he was convicted on and has not taken responsibility for the crime. He added that the evaluation marked Wakeman as a moderate risk to re-offend, and Wakeman responded that he was “not really” attracted to teenage girls rather than not at all.
“Your honor, he lives in denial,” Campola said. “That’s what makes him dangerous.”
Allen said that it’s hard to show remorse when he’s maintaining his innocence. Allen focused his argument on Wakeman’s military service and that he received numerous accolades from his time in the service. Allen also noted that the jury did not hear from a part of the pre-sentencing report that mentioned how Wakeman saved a woman’s life during a car crash in 2013.
“I don’t know how you ignore the bravery he’s exhibited over his military career,” Allen said of the jury’s verdict.
Campola responded by saying that Allen is arguing that Wakeman’s 20 years of military service are more important than the pain he put the victim through.
Wakeman gave a statement before sentencing in which he thanked his family for their support through the case. He apologized to his family that they had to go through the stress it has caused, and he maintained that he was innocent of the crime.
“I know, one day, the truth always comes out,” Wakeman said.
Hupp retired to his chambers for a little over 45 minutes before delivering his decision. He returned to the court saying that this is a day that his job as a judge weighs heavily on him. He said that the adverse effect that the case has had on Wakeman’s family is “the consequences of his crime.” Hupp said that while he took all factors into consideration, he could not justify deviating from the jury’s verdict.
Wakeman graciously accepted the life sentence that Hupp gave, thanking the judge as he was escorted out of the courtroom.