After six days of testimony from more than a dozen witnesses, the fate of LaFonse Dixon is in the hands of the jury.
Assistant Prosecutor Ron Welch opened closing arguments with a photo of 29-year-old Celeste Fronsman before she was set ablaze on Aug. 26, 2012 in Muskingum County. He then played a slideshow of what she looked like after Katrina Culberson, Monica Washington and allegedly LaFonse Dixon burned her alive. Welch asked the jury to close their eyes and focus on Fronsman and to, "Think as the defendant punches her in the face, imagine how she looked."
"In order for you to find the defendant not guilty, you would have to believe that Mark (Bretz) was lying to you. And Celeste Fronsman, knocking on deaths door, and the last thing she did was try to frame the defendant," Welch explained.
But the defense says Dixon wasn’t there and didn’t do it. Defense attorney Isabella Dixon said that it was a crime of passion, one based on crack-fueled emotions of Katrina Culberson and Monica Washington. Dixon said the two repeatedly told lies and "Just wanted a ticket to freedom." Defense attorney Larry Thomas said Fronsman’s injuries aren’t consistent with a man of Dixon’s size repeatedly beating Fronsman like the prosecution says.
Thomas said, "If a case is built on lies, it can’t support a conviction."
During rebuttal, Muskingum County Prosecutor Mike Haddox put the pieces of the puzzle together for the jury by reminding them of the evidence and testimony of key witnesses, and pieced them together using a photo of Dixon. He told the jury that Culberson and Washington have taken responsibility for their part in the crime and Dixon should too.
Haddox told the jury, "May your verdict grant her justice and may your verdict bring her peace."
It was Dixon who’s drug house was raided, the initial reason he and Culberson searched for Fronsman and it was Dixon who handed Culberson the gas can and lighter to light Fronsman on fire, that it was Dixon who fueled Washington and Culberson with crack during the murder, Haddox explained to the jury.
"If you run with the pack, you get credit for the kill. LaFonse Dixon ran with the pack and he’s just as responsible as KC and Washington."
Dixon is charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping and aggravated arson in the death of Fronsman, if convicted he could face the death penalty. Culberson and Washington have already pleaded guilty and testified against Dixon.
The jury will return for deliberations Thursday at 9 a.m.