Dixon gets new trial

Published 4:00 am Saturday, July 3, 2010

Roger Dixon will have his day in court — again.
The state Supreme Court overturned Dixon’s conviction on attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle. The court based its ruling on the fact that a juror did not tell the truth about a question during voir dire.
Stacey Hudson, a legal assistant for Dixon’s new attorney Paul Harden, said the appeals process had gone through the court of criminal appeals and finally to the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court has reversed his conviction,” Hudson said. “The case has been remanded for a new trial.”
No date has been set for the new trial that will put Dixon back in the defendant’s chair.
An Escambia County jury convicted Dixon in April 2007 in connection with a 2005 incident that left him facing charges of attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle driven by David Jackson.
John Jernigan, a Brewton attorney, was defense counsel for Dixon in the
original trial. Harden handled the appeals process and will be counsel for Dixon in an upcoming re-trial of the case.
An opinion rendered by the Alabama Supreme Court states the case was overturned due to information given concerning the response of a juror selected for the trial.
In the court opinion, the deciding issue in the case was that Dixon contended a juror at his trial failed to respond correctly to a question asked during jury selection.
The question presented to the juror asked, “Have you or a member of your immediate family ever been a criminal defendant in a criminal case in either the district court of the circuit court in this county where (the district attorney or any of his assistants) prosecuted the case?”
The Supreme Court opinion states the juror in question did not respond to the question; however, criminal charges were pending against her at the time of Dixon’s trial.
“About two months before Dixon’s trial, L.A. (the juror in question) had been twice charged by family members with a misdemeanor,”
the opinion states. “The charges had been served on L.A., and she had posted an appearance bond in each case. At the time of Dixon’s trial, L.A. personally was engaged in discussing the disposition of the charges with the district attorney. Shortly after Dixon’s trial, L.A.’s case was placed in pretrial diversion status.”
According to records, the case against the juror included making a harassing communication and were filed by the juror’s teenage daughter and her former husband and related to a family dispute,
In Dixon’s 2007 trial, a jury listened to testimony including of an alleged affair, a simmering feud and a drunken night on the road and returned a guilty verdict after only two hours of deliberations.
According to testimony during the trial, Dixon shot at David Jackson and Brad Cary in the early morning hours of May 14, 2005, at Maxwell’s Quick Mart. Cary was in his vehicle, while Jackson was outside of his truck.
Prosecutors contended that Dixon drove his truck in a circle around Jackson and Cary while they were parked at the gas station, shot at them at least four times and hit a gas pump as he drove off. Neither Jackson nor Cary was injured in the incident.
But Dixon testified that his truck was parked farther away from the two men, and that he did fire shots from a .22 caliber pistol, but they were shot into the air.
He admitted that he hit and damaged the gas pump as he drove away. Dixon said he was drunk that night from at least 10 shots of whiskey, a dozen beers and a Xanax. Dixon said he drove away from the scene and threw his pistol into the Escambia River.
Police officers testified they found shell casings in the area where Jackson and Cary said they were shot but found none in the area where Dixon said he was parked.
Jernigan said in his closing statement that those casings were not the type that Dixon normally shot, and a box bearing that brand was not found in Dixon’s vehicle when police searched it.
Dixon also said he could not have driven his vehicle in the manner that prosecutors suggested when he did the shooting, saying that he later tried to make the turn around the gas pump and was unable to do so.
Dixon and his family members testified during the trial that he was such a good marksman he would not have missed Jackson if he had actually been aiming for him. His brother testified that Dixon was even a good shot when he was drunk.
Dixon was sentenced to 20 years on the attempted murder charge and 10 years on the charge of shooting into an occupied vehicle.
Rice chose to split the sentence. Dixon is incarcerated at Bibb County Correctional Facility in Brent. Records with the Alabama Department of Corrections show he would be eligible for release in February 2012.

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