On Tuesday, the jury recommended life in prison without the possibility of parole for LaFonse Dixon. Dixon was convicted of aggravated murder, kidnapping and aggravated arson on Oct. 17 in the death of 29-year-old Celeste Fronsman who was found beaten and burned Aug. 26, 2012 on State Route 208.
The jury heard from Dixon’s family and friends about his upbringing and his family tragedies including the loss of his father and older sister. Each witness, including Dixon’s teenage sons, was asked by the defense why Dixon’s life has value and why it should be spared.
"Because of like, he takes care of everybody. Like say somebody down, my Dad, he’ll make somebody happy," said Dixon’s son, Jai Rell Ingrim.
"Because I see him not just as a father, but someone I love and adore and care about no matter what, no matter how angry he makes me, I will still love him," said Darien Dixon, who said Dixon is a father figure to him.
During closing statements, the defense said it’s not about an eye for an eye and that the jury’s decision should not be based on revenge. During rebuttal, Muskingum County Prosecutor Mike Haddox told the jury it’s up to them if they want to base their decision on 30-year-old photos of Dixon and his family tragedies.
"They say a picture is worth a thousand words, the state contends this picture is worth one word," said Haddox showing a photo of Fronsman in the hospital. "That word is death and so should be your verdict."
The jury had four options to choose from including the death penalty. But before sparing his life and recommending life in prison without the possibility of parole, the jury heard from Dixon himself. In an unsworn statement Dixon told the jury Fronsman didn’t deserve what happened to her and gave his condolences to her family.
"Ladies and gentleman of the jury, you felt what you did was right.. but still, I have so much misunderstanding how a man can be judged based on so many lies," said Dixon. "How can a man be called a monster, that you don’t even know. My name is LaFonse Dixon, Jr. I am 34, I am the father of three beautiful boys."
On Nov. 4, Muskingum County Common Please Court Judge Kelly Cottrill will decide to either take the jury’s recommendation or give Dixon a lesser sentence.