PENN Live reports,
Two very different portraits were painted of Jahnaey Chase as she was sentenced to 3-1/2 to 10 years in prison Friday for killing her boyfriend Earl Watlington Jr.
Chase’s lawyer, Kristen Weisenberger, said Chase, 29, shot the 34-year-old Watlington outside her Swatara Township home in May 2017 as he beat her for perhaps the 60 th time.
Yet Watlington’s family described him as an imperfect, but God-fearing man who was himself the victim of domestic violence perpetrated by a jealous and mentally and physically abusive Chase.
Chase’s battered woman scenario was the basis for the sentence Dauphin County Judge Deborah E. Curcillo imposed under a plea deal.
Deputy District Attorney Katie Adam said Chase struck that deal in May when she pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Chase originally was charged with a more serious charge of murder.
In entering that guilty plea, Chase acknowledged “she may have believed she was acting in self-defense (when she killed Watlington) but it was not a justified shooting,” Adam said.
Police responding to the shooting found Watlington lying in the 100 block of Conestoga Street. He died from a single bullet that pierced his heart and one lung.
The conflicting images of Watlington – and Chase – emerged as soon as the sentencing hearing began.
“I would like to thank God for keeping my family safe through this tragedy involving my son,” Watlington’s mother Sandra told the judge. “I don’t care what he did. He did not deserve to have his life taken away…When he died, part of me died, too.”
Like other family members, Sandra Watlington cited numerous Bible verses. She warned Chase that her final judgment is in God’s hands.
“We all have to be accountable to God,” she said. “Life goes on and God knows everything. Justice will be served.”
His mother and other relatives described Watlington as religious and kind. They described Chase as jealous, insecure and violent.
“My sister is hurting because someone decided they would use violence instead of words,” said Watlington’s aunt, Glenda Oliver. “Our hurt is from our hearts, our souls.”
She said her family’s goal now is to live a forgiving, revenge-free Christian life that would make her deceased nephew proud. “We are not going to let the Devil step in and make us ugly people,” Oliver said.
“If we loved one another like God wants us to we wouldn’t have these terrible things going on,” Watlington’s cousin Michael Watlington added.
Weisenberger insisted there is no doubt “Jahnaey Chase was a battered woman.” She said Chase told a counselor Watlington had assaulted her 58 times during a 120-day period not long before the killing.
On the night he was shot, Watlington poured a bottle of alcohol on Chase as they sat in his car outside her house, then choked her into unconsciousness, Weisenberger said. She said Chase was pregnant with Watlington’s child at the time but didn’t know it.
When she came to, Chase told Watlington she was calling the cops, her lawyer said. “He replied, ‘You’re going to die’,” Weisenberger said.
She said Chase ran to her house, shattering the glass in her front door as she rushed to get to the phone. She grabbed the gun Watlington hid along with some drugs in her couch, Weisenberger said. She said Watlington grabbed Chase and began pulling her by the hair toward his car. “And that’s when she shot him,” Weisenberger said.
“She absolutely loved Watlington and at the same time she was absolutely terrified of him,” Weisenberger concluded.
Chase told the judge she is sorry for the loss she caused Watlington’s family. She said regrets that she let the community down. Counseling she received in prison has rerouted her life, she said. “My thoughts from here on out will be constructive and not destructive,” Chase said.
Her aim, she said, is to become a counselor for domestic violence victims “so there will not have to be another story like mine.”
Chase brother, David Chase Jr., is awaiting trial on an evidence tampering charge. Police said he tossed the gun used to kill Watlington into a neighbor’s yard.