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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Jury finds Dixon guilty of manslaughter in Gibson killing

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  • BATH | The brutal death of Dolores Warner was the culmination a long history of violence that took place behind closed doors, Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker said Tuesday, after Joseph Dixon was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in the November 2011 killing.
    A jury of five women and seven men found Dixon not guilty of second-degree murder but guilty of manslaughter after about four hours of deliberation Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, returning their verdict at approximately noon Tuesday.
    There was no reaction from Dixon, who was quiet and composed throughout the trial.
    The prosecution alleged that on Nov. 22 or early in the morning Nov. 23, 2011, Dixon savagely beat Warner in her Gibson home, leaving her dead with 20 broken ribs and a broken neck.
    They presented evidence that Dixon had behaved violently toward Warner over a long period of time, and that the history of domestic abuse led ultimately to her killing.
    They also offered scientific testimony showing Dixon's DNA mixed with his victim's blood at the scene, and her blood on his jacket when police arrested him in Lawrenceville, Pa.
    Baker said he didn't see the acquittal on the murder charge as a defeat.
    "I think the facts could have supported either verdict," he said.
    Dixon was initially charged with manslaughter by authorities, but a grand jury, after hearing the case, increased the charge to second-degree murder.
    The difference between the charges is subtle but profound – the murder charge required the jury to find that Dixon intended to kill Warner, whereas the manslaughter charge describes a situation where the intent to seriously injure someone results in their death.
    Baker argued during the trial that it was impossible for a reasonable person to beat someone so severely and not intend for them to die.
    But the difference in sentencing may be negligible, he said.
    The sentencing guideline for second-degree murder is 25 years to life; for manslaughter, it's 10 to 25 years.
    However, he's entered a motion to have Dixon considered a persistent felony offender, which would give Judge Peter Bradstreet the option to impose a stricter sentence.
    That's because Dixon already has felony convictions on his record, including two stints in state prison.
    Warner's sister, Maxine Huddle of Endicott, said the important thing is that Dixon will pay for what he took from Dolores' family and friends.
    "I believe justice was served," she said.
    The process is still far from over.
    A hearing on Dixon's potential persistent felony offender status is set for Feb. 24. A date for sentencing will be set after that hearing is completed.
    Dixon's attorney, Terrence Baxter, said he plans to file a notice of appeal in the case.
    Baxter said his involvement with the case will end with sentencing, although he still plans some procedural motions, including one to request that the judge set aside the verdict.
    Page 2 of 2 - He said it would be up to the 4th District Court of Appeals to assign Dixon an attorney to handle the appeal process.

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