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  1. #11
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    Testimony in capital murder trial starts Tuesday

    After four weeks of jury selection, testimony will begin Tuesday in the capital trial of a man accused of hiring men to kill his stepmother.

    Robert Dennis Dixon, 49, could face the death penalty if a jury finds him guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. Sara Jones Bright Dixon was found dead of gunshot wounds inside her McCray Road home Nov. 30, 2007.

    The last of three alternate jurors was selected Thursday. Robert Dixon’s case will be heard by a jury of seven women, five men and three female alternates.

    Testimony is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the superior courtroom of the Alamance County Historic Courthouse. Testimony in the case is expected to last between three and four weeks.

    Alamance County District Attorney Pat Nadolski and Alamance County Assistant District Attorney Sean Boone will argue for the state. Defense attorneys Terry Alford and Stephen Freedman represent Robert Dixon.

    Robert Dixon allegedly hired Thomas Clay Friday, 40, to kill Sara Dixon for $10,000. The state believes Robert Dixon was angry with her for putting his father in a nursing home and selling the family land to pay for the care.

    Friday pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, conspiracy and first-degree burglary last year in exchange for a life sentence. He testified that Robert Dixon agreed to pay him. Friday said he hired Matthew Devon Fields, 25, to assist with the staged burglary and kill Sara Dixon.

    Friday is expected to testify for the state.

    Depending on the verdict, the trial could stretch weeks longer.

    If found guilty of first-degree murder, the jury must then weigh a life sentence versus the death penalty in a sentencing phase. Prosecutors and defense attorneys would argue their sides before the jury began to deliberate the sentence.

    http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/top....196290?page=1
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  2. #12
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    Prosecutor: Murder motivated by hatred and greed

    In the opening day of testimony in a capital murder trial, defense attorneys said they intend to show that a co-defendant acted on his own when he murdered a 68-year-old woman in 2007.

    Robert “Dennis” Dixon, 49, is accused of hiring two men — Thomas Clay Friday, 40, and Matthew Devon Fields, 25 — to kill his stepmother, Sara Dixon, in 2007. His trial began Tuesday. Dennis Dixon could face the death penalty if found guilty of hiring them to carry out the murder on Nov. 28, 2007.

    Friday, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last year, is now at the center of both the state’s and defense’s cases.

    Friday took the stand Tuesday as the state’s first witness, describing how Dennis Dixon agreed to pay $10,000 to have Sara Dixon “taken out of the equation.” Friday said Dennis Dixon was upset she was selling family land to pay for his father’s healthcare.

    But the defense intends to show that Friday acted without Dennis Dixon’s knowledge or consent when he recruited Fields to break into Sara Dixon’s home on Nov. 28, 2007, shoot and kill her.

    “Friday killed Sara Dixon with the hope he was going to get something in the future from Dennis Dixon, because he thought he would get some reward from Dennis,” defense attorney Stephen Freedman said during opening statements.

    Friday was on the stand for more than four hours Tuesday and will continue being cross-examined by defense attorneys when the trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

    Read more here http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/top...greed-1.197042
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  3. #13
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    Witness says he overheard plot to kill Sara Dixon

    A witness testified Thursday that he heard two defendants in a capital murder case talk about killing Sara Dixon in the months leading up to her November 2007 murder.

    James “Jamie” Blaylock said he was with Robert Dennis Dixon, 49, and Thomas Clay Friday, 40, in early July 2007 when Sara Dixon and sales of the Dixon family estate came up in conversation. Dennis Dixon cursed and called Sara Dixon lewd names several times, Blaylock said.

    “(Dennis) went on to say: I’d give someone $5K to smoke her …,” Blaylock testified. “And (Friday) said: You tell the wrong (expletive) that and they’ll take you up on it.”

    Dennis Dixon is on trial, charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. He could face the death penalty if found guilty of his stepmother’s murder. Friday pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Dennis Dixon and co-defendant Matthew Devon Fields, 25, in exchange for a life sentence.

    The state believed Dennis Dixon hired Friday and Fields to kill Sara Dixon because she put his father in a nursing home and family property was being sold to pay bills there. Dennis Dixon’s defense argues that Friday acted on his own when he allegedly recruited Fields to break-in Sara Dixon’s home and shoot her.

    Blaylock said he’s known Dennis Dixon since they were teenagers and met Friday about a decade ago while racing at Ace Speedway. Blaylock and Friday often worked on cars together. The day he overheard their conversation, they were installing an engine lift at Dennis Dixon’s property, 2049 McCray Road.

    Blaylock didn’t come forward with the information until almost 17 months after Sara Dixon’s body was found in her bed at 2033 McCray Road in Burlington. Blaylock explained he feared for his life if he went to law enforcement and thought they would solve the case on their own.

    A heart attack in 2008 led him to become a born-again Christian.

    “I got saved at Ace Speedway ... After that, my heart hurt, my head hurt: I got to tell someone what I know,” Blaylock testified.

    He called Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson and told what he knew on April 22, 2009.

    Blaylock was paid $1,500 by the sheriff’s department and $1,250 by Alamance County CrimeStoppers for the information.

    Because he was paid, defense attorney Stephen Freedman motioned to have Blaylock’s testimony ruled inadmissible. Superior Court Judge Osmond Smith denied that motion.

    Blaylock also testified about Friday showing him a “small, foreign, throw-away gun” believed to be the weapon used to kill Sara Dixon. That gun has never been recovered. Friday believes a friend threw it in University Lake in Chapel Hill.

    Also on Thursday, Jurors spent hours poring over Dennis Dixon’s extensive notes documenting Sara Dixon’s whereabouts on nearly every day of 2005. Dennis Dixon kept those notes on a calendar, mainly describing whether or not Sara Dixon visited his father, Cardwell Dixon, while he was in a nursing home. According to the calendar, Sara Dixon often went days or even weeks without visiting her husband at Alamance Healthcare.

    Dennis Dixon also wrote about interactions and arguments with Sara Dixon, on one occasion writing “SHE IS MENTAL” after a decision she made regarding Cardwell Dixon’s care and condition.

    The calendar was seized from Dennis Dixon’s cubicle at LabCorp by State Bureau of Investigation agent Gerald Thomas on Dec. 2, 2007 — four days after Sara Dixon was killed.

    Under cross-examination, Thomas said little usable physical evidence was recovered from Sara Dixon’s home during the Nov. 30, 2007, search. Thomas also said it appeared that he and investigators failed to collect or catalogue a piece of tinsel found on the exterior doors that were kicked in during the break-in.

    Impressions from two pairs of shoes left in the carpet, tracking from those doors to Sara Dixon’s bedroom, weren’t able to be preserved for evidence, Thomas said.

    Thomas said it was possible a third party could have entered the home between Nov. 28 and Dec. 30, 2007, and covered Sara Dixon’s body with a blanket but not left extra impressions in the carpet.

    The trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. Friday in the Alamance County Historic Courthouse.

    http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/top....201812?page=2
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  4. #14
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    Dixon trial to remain on hold Thursday

    Testimony in the capital murder trial for Robert Dennis Dixon won’t be heard again Thursday.

    Terry Alford — one of Dixon’s defense attorneys — became ill sometime after the close of court Monday. Hearings in the trial were postponed Tuesday and Wednesday.

    On Wednesday, Alford notified the court he wouldn’t be able to practice Thursday.

    Dixon is accused of hiring two men to kill his stepmother, Sara Dixon, in 2007. He could face the death penalty if found guilty of first-degree murder. Testimony in the trial began Sept. 3 and is expected to last through the end of the month.

    http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/top...rsday-1.204572
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  5. #15
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    Dixon described victim’s fatal wounds in phone call

    Robert Dennis Dixon gave a graphic description of Sara Dixon’s wounds the day after her body was found, a neighbor of his testified Tuesday.

    Kenneth Edgerton, a pilot for Delta Airlines, was on a layover in Hawaii when Sara Dixon’s body was found Nov. 30, 2007. The next day, Edgerton’s wife called and said Dennis Dixon left a message for him. Dennis Dixon said his stepmother was shot in the face and eye, and described discharge from her wounds.

    Edgerton couldn’t recall where Dennis Dixon said he got that description of her.

    Away from jurors, Alamance County District Attorney Pat Nadolski played Edgerton a video of his interview with Alamance County detectives. During that interview, Edgerton said Dennis Dixon told him he got the description of Sara Dixon’s wounds from a police report.

    That specific description of her wounds wasn’t in law enforcement’s reports.

    Throughout Dennis Dixon’s trial, prosecutors have alluded that someone entered Sara Dixon’s home between the time she was killed on Nov. 28, 2007, and when neighbors found her body on Nov. 30, 2007. On Monday, an analyst with the State Bureau of Investigation testified that tinsel found in the doorway of Sara Dixon’s 2033 McCray Road home matched the tinsel on Dennis Dixon’s Christmas tree in 2007. Her body was also found covered in her grandson’s blanket, an action a man who’s admitted to killing her says he and another co-defendant didn’t perform.

    Dennis Dixon, 49, is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. He’s accused of hiring Thomas Clay Friday, 40, and Matthew Devon Fields, 25, to kill Sara Dixon and could face the death penalty if found guilty of her murder. His trial began Sept. 3.

    Friday already pleaded guilty to the murder in exchange for a life sentence. He testified earlier in the trial.

    Also Tuesday, Sara Dixon’s former housekeeper testified that she cleaned the house the day of Nov. 28, 2007. The blanket found on her body was never kept on the bed, Juanita Enoch said. She’d never known Sara Dixon to remove it from her grandson’s crib.

    Enoch said Cardwell and Sara Dixon stood their Christmas tree each year by the doors where the tinsel was found. However, there hadn’t been a Christmas tree there since at least 2004, when Cardwell Dixon had a stroke and was placed in a nursing home.

    Two of Dennis Dixon’s LabCorp co-workers testified Tuesday that he spoke often and at length about familial problems concerning Sara Dixon and Cardwell’s placement. They also testified that Dennis Dixon took a half-day off work on Nov. 28, 2007, to withdraw money from a Merrill Lynch account. They said he planned to take Sara Dixon to court and gain guardianship of their father’s estate and care.

    Christy Brown, a friend of Sara Dixon’s, said Sara Dixon was terrified of her stepson. About a week before her death, Sara Dixon called Brown and asked her to stay on the phone in case something happened to her. Sara Dixon said her alarm system wasn’t working properly.

    “Her voice: You could feel her on the other end of the phone (thinking) of what could happen, what was going to happen. She lived with that every day,” Brown said.

    OUTSIDE THE PRESENCE of the jury, defense attorneys Stephen Freedman and Terry Alford objected to Nadolski’s questioning of Edgerton about his phone conversation with Dennis Dixon. Alford claimed Nadolski was asking leading questions, trying to get Edgerton to say that Dennis Dixon told him he got the description of Sara Dixon’s wounds from a report by law enforcement.

    “You and I have a big difference of opinion over what is leading,” Alford told Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III. “There’s been an awful lot of leading by the state of North Carolina in this case.”

    “Mostly without objection,” Smith responded. “Yes we do have a different opinion of what a leading question is.”

    “We started out objecting, but it was always overruled … we got tired of objecting,” Alford said. “If it suggests an answer, it’s leading.”

    Freedman accused Nadolski of twisting questions of Edgerton to get information of Dennis Dixon mentioning a police report in front of jurors.

    Nadolski defended the state’s “right to ask questions” of a witness.

    Smith at first allowed Nadolski’s extended questioning but reversed that decision and sustained the defense’s objection before jurors returned.

    http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/top....207905?page=2
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  6. #16
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    State rests case in Dixon murder trial

    After three weeks of testimony, the state rested its case Wednesday against Robert Dennis Dixon and his defense began calling witnesses.

    In the final day of state’s evidence, a detective recalled two statements Dennis Dixon allegedly gave to friends and neighbors that included details of the crime scene that weren’t yet known or hadn’t been released.

    Around 10 p.m. Nov. 30, 2007 — the day Sara Dixon’s body was discovered in her 2033 McCray Road home — Dennis Dixon allegedly told Ray Cobb that someone broke in and murdered his stepmother.

    But at that point, investigators still hadn’t ruled out suicide as the cause of Sara Dixon’s death by gunshots to the head, said Sgt. Curtis Morris with the Alamance County Sheriff’s Department.

    Two days later, Dennis Dixon allegedly described in graphic detail Sara Dixon’s wounds. Those details also hadn’t been discussed or released by investigators, Morris said.

    Under cross-examination, defense attorney Terry Alford tried to shift the source of that information to a neighbor that discovered Sara Dixon’s body. That man, Ralph Squires, gave some description of her wounds to at least two people.

    Dennis Dixon’s trial began Sept. 3. He is accused of hiring two men to kill Sara Dixon and is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder and first-degree burglary. He could face the death penalty if found guilty of murder

    The defense called its first witness late Wednesday. Richard Bernier, a friend of Dennis Dixon and his father, Cardwell, will continue testifying when the trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the superior courtroom of the Alamance County Historic Courthouse.

    Before the state rested, Cobb testified that on one occasion Dennis Dixon told him he “would kill Sara if he could get away with it.” Dennis Dixon allegedly made those statements outside a convenience store.

    Deanie Marco, a friend of Dennis Dixon’s, told jurors that in 2004, Dennis made a remark about people “disappearing” and knowing hit-men in Alamance County. Marco was “venting” after a bad day at work. She said Dennis Dixon’s statements in reference to an unsolved murder at the time disturbed her and she ended the conversation.

    Sara Dixon’s son, James Michael Neese, testified about his mother’s relationship with Dennis Dixon. Neese said his mother had him change locks on two exterior doors and install motion-activated lights in the backyard between her husband’s stroke in 2004 and her death in November 2007. He also said she was receiving harassing phone calls from Dennis Dixon and changed her number.

    When Sara Dixon’s body was found, she was covered in her grandson’s blanket which usually remained in his crib at the foot of her bed, Neese said.

    Defense attorneys Alford and Stephen Freedman motioned for Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III to dismiss the charges against Dennis Dixon at the close of state’s evidence due to the “insufficiency of evidence” by the state.

    Smith denied that motion and prompted the attorneys to begin calling witnesses.

    http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/top....208511?page=1
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  7. #17
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    Dixon murder trial to resume soon

    A capital murder trial that was put on hold last month due to an attorney’s health emergency will resume Nov. 4.

    On Monday, Superior Court Judge Osmond W. Smith III notified the Alamance County Clerk of Superior Court’s Office of the date. Smith postponed the remainder of Robert Dennis Dixon’s trial on Sept. 30 after Dixon’s attorney, Terry Alford, suffered a heart attack.

    Dixon was scheduled to resume testimony in his trial that morning when Stephen Freedman, Alford’s co-counsel, told the court that his partner had a heart attack and underwent surgery over the preceding weekend. Smith postponed the trial for four weeks.

    Court clerk Rebecca Mullis called jurors Monday, telling them to return to court at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 4.

    Dixon is accused of hiring two men to kill his stepmother, Sara Dixon, in November 2007. On trial for first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, Dennis Dixon could face the death penalty if found guilty of her murder.

    The trial began Sept. 3.

    http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/top...-soon-1.223293
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  8. #18
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    Dennis Dixon murder trial resumes

    The capital murder trial of a man accused of hiring two men to kill his stepmother resumed Monday, with the defendant testifying that one of those men extorted money from him after the murder.
    The state also began cross-examining Robert Dennis Dixon during his third day on the witness stand. His trial was put on hold in September after one of his defense attorneys had a heart attack.
    Dixon, 49, said he regretted airing his feelings about his stepmother, Sara Dixon, during a protracted estate battle between 2005 and her death in November 2007. His statements gave Thomas Clay Friday an opportunity to use the information against him, he said.
    Early in the investigation, Dixon was identified as the prime suspect. Within days, Friday threatened to go to the police, claiming Dixon confessed to the murder, unless he paid him, Dixon testified Monday.
    “He said, ‘If anybody ever told investigators you did it, you’d go down for it,’” Dennis Dixon said. “All of a sudden you realize: All the things you said … it compounds. Look at what they can paint you as being.”
    Friday took money for a girlfriend’s house payment and for a court-ordered child custody payment, and tried to get money to bail a friend out of jail, Dixon said. Each time, Friday threatened to hurt or kill Dixon and his fiancée’s family if he went to police about the extortion.
    “It was just threat after threat. It was so chilling,” Dixon said, crying.
    Friday, 40, has already pleaded guilty to
    first-degree murder in exchange for a life sentence. He testified that Dixon offered him $10,000 to kill Sara Dixon. The defense argues that Friday acted alone, in hopes of financial gain.
    The state believes Dennis Dixon had his stepmother killed to keep his inheritance.
    Sara Dixon was found shot to death Nov. 30, 2007, in her home at 2033
    McCray Road. Several years before, Dennis Dixon’s father, Cardwell Dixon, had suffered a stroke and was placed in a nursing home. A third-party estate administrator began selling off family property to pay his medical bills, allegedly enraging Dennis Dixon, who wanted his father cared for at home.
    Dennis Dixon could face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder. He is charged also with first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
    He’s repeatedly denied any involvement in Sara Dixon’s killing, but has admitted saying in July 2007 that he would pay $5,000 for someone to kill her. He claims he was venting at the time.
    Alamance County Assistant District Attorney Sean Boone began cross-examination by showing emails from Dennis Dixon to an ex-girlfriend, sent while he was living with another woman. The defense’s objections to the emails and discussion of an Internet dating site account were overruled by Superior Court Judge Osmond W. Smith III. Boone argued the emails were relevant because the defense tried to paint the defendant as a family man, who loved his fiancée and her children, through numerous photographs and extended testimony.
    Boone also played an interview from Dec. 1, 2007, with Dennis Dixon by Alamance County detectives. In that interview, he described his activities in the days leading up to Nov. 30, 2007, when Sara Dixon’s body was discovered. He also briefly described the tensions between himself and Sara Dixon, his father’s marriage to her and his daily routines.
    While on the stand, Dixon claimed that records of the second half of that 2007 interview with Alamance County detectives had disappeared. During that alleged interview, the detectives said they had proof he killed his stepmother, yelled at him, flipped a table and “got in (his) face.” There is no record of that interview, and Boone said Dixon is the only person who says it exists.
    Dixon wasn’t charged with murder until July 2009.
    The back and forth between Boone and Dixon was strained, with the defendant asking the prosecutor not to raise his voice, asking why certain information mattered to the case and telling Boone, “Show me the transcript, if it’s not something you’re afraid to hide.”
    The trial began Sept. 3 but went on indefinite hiatus Sept. 28 after defense attorney Terry Alford had a heart attack and was hospitalized. The trial will continue at 9:30 a.m. today in the superior courtroom of the Alamance County Historic Courthouse.

    http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/top...sumes-1.230116
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  9. #19
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    Prosecutor, defendant trade barbs in murder trial

    Tensions ran high Tuesday as an Alamance County prosecutor sparred with the defendant in a capital murder trial during an entire day of cross-examination.

    Alamance County Assistant District Attorney Sean Boone asked Robert Dennis Dixon to account for significant gaps in information he initially gave investigators about the week his stepmother, Sara Dixon, was killed. Dennis Dixon said he forgot to mention that he spent Nov. 28, 2007 — the day of her killing — withdrawing $10,000, meeting with a co-defendant and paying that co-defendant $1,000.

    Audio of an interview Dec. 1, 2007, showed that Dennis Dixon did remember he ate tacos for lunch the day before Sara Dixon’s body was found.

    Boone quizzed Dennis Dixon about where he got crime scene information he allegedly shared with a neighbor in early December 2007. The details hadn’t been released to the public or family members, a lead detective on the case testified. Dennis Dixon said he heard the graphic details about her wounds from people talking outside her home Nov. 30, 2007, while investigators searched the scene.

    “You told (the neighbor) because you relished that she was dead, didn’t you? You reveled in your arch enemy being dead,” Boone said.

    “I don’t revel in anyone being dead. You’re a sick man,” Dennis Dixon said.

    Boone then placed a photo of Sara Dixon’s corpse before the defendant and asked him to describe the wounds. Dennis Dixon’s voice quavered as he did.

    A few minutes later, Boone asked whether Dennis Dixon’s biological mother, who died of cancer in 1986, would approve of actions the state alleges he took, including calling Sara Dixon names and wishing her dead and sending emails to an ex-girlfriend while dating another woman.

    “What kind of person did your mother raise you to be?” Boone asked.

    “Not the kind you’re trying to make me out to be,” Dennis Dixon responded.

    It was Dennis Dixon’s fourth day on the witness stand. He is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. The state believes he hired two men — Thomas Clay Friday, 40, and Matthew Devon Fields, 25 — to carry out a hit on his stepmother. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

    The state argues that Dennis Dixon wanted Sara Dixon dead for placing his father in a nursing home. Bills for his care caused an estate administrator to begin selling family property, which otherwise would have been family inheritance.

    The defense argues that Friday acted on his own after hearing Dennis Dixon describe hating his stepmother and having access to some of his father’s money. Dennis Dixon testified Monday that Friday extorted him for money, knowing he was the prime suspect.

    Boone alleged that Dennis Dixon could have stored some of $33,000 withdrawn in 2006 to pay Friday for the murder.

    The defendant denied that allegation and numerous others. But there were many details and interactions surrounding the family and estate battle that he said couldn’t remember.

    Boone accused Dennis Dixon of sneaking into his stepmother’s home at 2033 McCray Road, placing a blanket over her body and checking to see that she was dead. Christmas tinsel found in the home matched that found on Dixon’s tree. Friday, who already pleaded guilty to the murder, said he and Fields didn’t put the blanket on her.

    Dennis Dixon denied going into the house or seeing her body in the bed.

    “There’s one person who had a reason to go into that house, to verify the murder and to look in her dead face, isn’t that right?” Boone asked.

    “If you’re implying that it’s me, you’re way off base,” Dennis Dixon said.

    Despite having openly used expletives to describe Sara Dixon and telling at least two people he would pay to have her killed, Dennis Dixon first testified Tuesday that his relationship with Sara Dixon was “OK” and that there were “not really” any problems between them.

    Documents showed that Dennis Dixon or his brother told nursing home attendants early in 2005 that Sara Dixon might try to poison their father. Dennis Dixon testified Tuesday that there were “general rumors” around Western Steakhouse to that effect, but couldn’t say who said that about her.

    Just before afternoon recess, after hours of intense questioning by Boone, Dennis Dixon said he hated his stepmother.

    The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. today in the Alamance County Historic Courthouse.

    http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/top....230412?page=3
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  10. #20
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    Character witnesses say Dixon often said things he didn't mean

    The defense rested and the state announced it wouldn’t call rebuttal witnesses Thursday in a capital murder trial that’s lasted more than a month.

    The judge also denied the defense’s motion to dismiss charges against Robert Dennis Dixon, 49, for lack of evidence. Dixon is accused of hiring two men to kill his stepmother in 2007 and could face the death penalty if found guilty.

    Jurors will hear closing arguments in the case Tuesday.

    On the last day of testimony, the defense called seven character witnesses who were close to Dixon or the Dixon family.

    Milton Marshburn Jr., a lifelong friend, testified that Dixon is “loyal to a fault,” “gullible” and easily taken advantage of. When Dixon became angry, he often said things he didn’t mean, Marshburn said.

    “In all the years I’ve known him, I’ve never known him to hurt a fly,” Marshburn said.

    Read full story here

    http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/top...t-man-1.231724
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