A Philadelphia judge on Wednesday convicted a former Center City real estate agent of voluntary manslaughter in the 2017 shooting death of her boyfriend in her Fishtown apartment building.
Jeanette Wakefield, 38, did not testify at her trial, but previously admitted to police that she fired the shot from her legally owned 9mm handgun that killed 33-year-old Terry Corrigan IV of Kensington.
The prosecution and defense had agreed to a nonjury trial before Common Pleas Court Judge J. Scott O’Keefe. During the trial, which started Monday, evidence showed that Wakefield and Corrigan had had a sometimes tumultuous relationship since early 2016.
Assistant District Attorney Kate Shulman said in her closing argument Wednesday that Wakefield was angry at Corrigan when she shot him. She said Wakefield did not fear Corrigan and could have just locked her apartment door instead of shooting him as he stood in the hallway outside her apartment about 3:25 a.m. Sept. 27, 2017.
Defense attorneys Timothy Tarpey and James Lloyd argued that Wakefield shot Corrigan out of fear, and that at most it was a case of voluntary manslaughter.
The judge acquitted Wakefield of first- and third-degree murder, but did not specify why. She is to be sentenced Oct. 4.
At the time of the shooting, Wakefield lived with her 9-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son at the Chandler Apartments, 1050 E. Montgomery Ave., where she was the property manager. She also worked as an independent real estate agent.
In emotional testimony Tuesday, her son, now 12, testified about an escalating argument between Wakefield and Corrigan that led to the shooting. The Inquirer is withholding the boy’s name because he is a juvenile.
When the boy, dressed in a gray-collar short-sleeve shirt and shorts, walked into the courtroom, Wakefield looked longingly at him. The judge had cleared the courtroom of observers for his testimony at the prosecutor’s request, but allowed reporters to remain.
On the witness stand, the boy gave this account of what happened beginning on the night of Sept. 26, 2017, and into the early morning of the next day:
Corrigan left the apartment after an argument with Wakefield. She then went out to invite Corrigan back in, and at first he declined, but then returned, banging on the apartment door. At one point he angrily broke a table outside the apartment that Wakefield cherished. When Corrigan banged on the door again, Wakefield got her gun, the boy said.
“She told Terry she had it,” the boy testified, and she said that if he didn’t leave, “she was going to shoot.”
The boy said he was standing a couple of feet behind his mother in the apartment as she stood in the doorway and raised her gun. Then, Corrigan, who was in the hallway, took off his baseball cap and bowed, and said, “‘Oh, please do,’” then stood back up, the boy testified.
“I was very angry at him,” the boy said. “I called him a drug dealer, and he called me a faggot.”
A couple of seconds later, he said, his mother shot Corrigan. “Mom probably got really angry at him for calling me that,” he said emotionally.
His mother cried after shooting Corrigan and called 911, the boy said.
Patricia Clark, Corrigan’s aunt, testified Tuesday that she had been on the phone with Wakefield when the shot was fired.
Just before the shooting, Clark said, she heard her nephew in the background and Wakefield repeatedly telling him: “No, Terry, you broke the table.” Then, she heard gunfire.
Corrigan was shot just below his right eye.
Clark and the victim’s sister, Michelle Corrigan, both testified that Corrigan had never been violent toward Wakefield. Defense attorneys alleged that Corrigan was violent.
After the trial, Corrigan’s parents, Susan and Terry Corrigan III, said they were disappointed by the verdict. “I would have liked to see third-degree” murder, the mother said.