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Gang member convicted in 2001 murder

March 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A 35-year-old man was convicted Wednesday of capital murder for the August 2001 slaying of a Cal Poly Pomona student who disappeared on her way to a fraternity party and was found the next day with her throat slit. The fate of James Winslow Dixon Jr. came down to the decision of jurors in Pomona Wednesday.

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The 35-year-old man was convicted Wednesday of capital murder for the August 2001 slaying of Cal Poly Pomona student Christina Burmeister.

"They found Mr. Dixon guilty of the murder. He was also charged with two rapes from twelve years ago. He was found guilty of both of those rapes, involving one incident. There were special allegations that were all found to be true," said Nancy Sperber, a defense attorney.

DNA taken from a cigar butt found in or near her truck tied James Dixon to the crime, sheriff's Detective Philip Guzman said in 2005.

The special circumstances made Dixon eligible for the death penalty. During the trial Dixon alleged his wife and another man kidnapped Burmeister near a Pomona fraternity house on August 17, 2001.

Prosecutors say they then took her to a Montclair ATM and had her withdraw money from her account. They then drove her up Highway 39 into the mountains where Dixon slit her throat.

Dixon's wife and the other co-defendant have already pled guilty.

Defense Attorney Nancy Sperber says Dixon was not surprised by the verdict Wednesday. "I think he expected what was going to happen based on the evidence and what happened with his wife and the other co-defendant."

Sperber is now preparing for the penalty phase.

"Obviously we are going to argue that Mr. Dixon should not get the death penalty. Strategy wise what our argument is based on I am not at liberty to discuss it at this time. You will always argue to save someone's life," said Sperber.

Jurors are due back in court Monday for the start of the trial's penalty phase, in which they will be asked to recommend whether Dixon should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

 

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