A Philadelphia judge on Friday sentenced a former Center City real estate agent to 3½ to seven years in state prison in the fatal shooting of her boyfriend in her Fishtown apartment building two years ago.
Common Pleas Court Judge J. Scott O’Keefe had convicted Jeanette Wakefield, 39, of voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime after a nonjury trial in July. He added two years of probation and ordered her to get counseling.
Wakefield shot Terrance Corrigan IV, 33, of Kensington, with her legally owned 9mm handgun about 3:25 a.m. on Sept. 27, 2017, as she stood in the doorway of her apartment and he was at least two feet away in the hallway, evidence showed. The bullet entered just below his right eye and lodged in a lung.
At Friday’s sentencing, the victim’s relatives told O’Keefe that Corrigan was good-hearted, had never been violent toward Wakefield, and had a beautiful soul.
“I’ve never been so distraught in my life,” Susan Corrigan said of the death of her older son. She then lashed out at Wakefield, saying her “most disgraceful” claim was that he had been violent toward her.
During the emotionally heated hearing, one of Wakefield’s sisters, Philadelphia Police Officer Jennifer Wakefield, stood before the judge — after being called up by the prosecutor — and said the defense attorney’s statements that her sister had a rough childhood and had been molested were false.
“She got a butt beat ... but my sister was a victim to no one,” Jennifer Wakefield told O’Keefe. She also recounted how Jeanette, at age 13, stabbed and wounded another sister during an argument over putting a pizza in the oven.
Jeanette Wakefield, who looked solemn during the hearing and at one point wiped away a tear when Susan Corrigan spoke before the judge, apologized. “I’m very, very sorry. Terry was someone I loved and cared about. This is something I wished hadn’t happened.”
O’Keefe’s sentence, which was within sentencing guidelines, angered Corrigan’s family, who had believed that the judge should have convicted Wakefield of first-degree murder, an intentional killing, or third-degree murder, one done with malice or hardness of heart.
Afterward, the victim’s father, Terrance Corrigan III, called it “a disgrace.”
The victim’s sister, Michelle, wondered: “What are our options when we get a lenient sentence like this?”
Her aunt Patricia Clark, who had been on the phone with Wakefield when Wakefield shot Corrigan, said: “She got away with murder.”
At the time of the shooting, Wakefield lived with her 9-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son at the Chandler Apartments, a former school building at 1050 E. Montgomery Ave., where she was the property manager. She also had worked as a real estate agent in Center City.
First responders found Corrigan in the second-floor hallway outside Wakefield’s apartment, where he was pronounced dead.
Evidence at the trial and relatives have said that Wakefield and Corrigan, a contractor who did roofing, cement, and carpentry work, had a sometimes tumultuous relationship that began in early 2016.
In the hours before the shooting, evidence showed, Wakefield and Corrigan had argued over watching a movie in her apartment, and sometime later, Corrigan damaged a cherished terrazzo table in the outside hallway that had belonged to her grandfather.
When Corrigan tried to get back into the apartment by banging on the door, Wakefield opened it with her gun in hand, her son testified at the trial. He said he was standing a couple of feet behind his mother in the apartment as she stood in the doorway and raised her weapon.
Wakefield’s son, now 12, said he called Corrigan “a drug dealer,” and Corrigan called him a derogatory name. He said his mother then shot Corrigan and afterward called 911.
An assistant medical examiner testified at the trial that because of the trajectory of the bullet, it was likely that Corrigan’s head was bowed when Wakefield shot him.
Defense attorney Timothy Tarpey has alleged that Corrigan was violent, and argued that Wakefield shot Corrigan out of fear. After the sentencing, he said: “We’re very happy with the verdict and the sentence.... Her actions never amounted to murder.”
Assistant District Attorney Kate Shulman, who argued that Wakefield did not fear Corrigan, but shot him out of anger and intended to kill him, asked the judge for the maximum sentence of 12½ to 25 years in state prison.
The judge told the victim’s relatives that it was “a tragic case,” but that Wakefield had been convicted of manslaughter, not murder.