N.C. Court of Appeals upholds conviction of Brunswick County woman in boyfriend’s death

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Julie Anne English
Julie Ann English

A Supply woman will spend more than four years in prison for the 2012 vehicular death of her boyfriend after the N.C. Court of Appeals recently upheld her voluntary manslaughter conviction.

The court heard the appeal of Julie Ann English and ruled unanimously in its opinion to uphold her conviction, District Attorney Jon David recently announced.

A Brunswick County jury found English, 50, guilty of voluntary manslaughter on March 4, 2014. She was originally charged with second-degree murder in the death 52-year-old Michael Anthony Pate at the couple’s home on Oxpen Road in Supply on May 27, 2012.

Prosecutors contended throughout the trial that English ran over Pate with her car, killing him. But English’s defense attorney, James Payne, said his death was an accident.

The night Pate died began with a party—a party with alcohol and drugs—to celebrate Pate’s 52nd birthday and Memorial Day. According to prosecutors in the case, English was drinking wine and smoking crack cocaine at the party, then drove to get money to buy more drugs.

When she returned, English and Pate got into a fight, prosecutors said.

In her testimony, English told the court Pate hit her in the left cheek with a fist. The blow knocked her off the front porch, she said. English went to her vehicle to go to the hospital. She said her first instinct was to back out of the driveway, but she decided to make Pate mad first.

“I look over at the steps and I thought, ‘well, you know I’ll just hit those steps.’ And then I’ll back out and leave,” English said at trial. “I was just–I was…upset with him for hitting me. So I just thought I’d just do it and make him mad and leave.”

English hit the steps but when she tried to back up she was unable, she testified. When she got out of the car to check, she found Pate under the car. English said she was “shocked, scared, [and] nervous” when she discovered her boyfriend under her car.

A pathologist testified Pate died within about a minute. His cause of death was multiple blunt-force traumas with crushed ribs, chest and pelvis.

After English was convicted, Pate’s son, Michael Pate Jr., said English took “the best dad a kid could ask for.”

English was sentenced 51-74 months in the N.C. Department of Corrections. According to prison records, English began her sentence on March 4, 2014. She is being held at the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women with a projected release in January 2017.

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Christina Haley is a crime reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6337 or Christina.h@portcitydaily.com.