The man charged with the fatal shooting of two men at a residence on Tommy Harrell Street in Smithville almost sixteen months ago may spend the rest of his life in prison.
45 year old David Howard Dixon, who was indicted on two counts of first degree murder in November 2012, pleaded guilty Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court under a negotiated settlement to two counts of second degree murder in the August 7, 2012 deaths of 55 year old Ervin Raymon Beacham and Jose Sagahon Ticante.
Judge David Patterson sentenced Dixon to 35 years in each case to run concurrently with each other for a total of 35 years. The term is also to run concurrently with a sentence he is serving for violation of probation. Dixon, who has been incarcerated since the day of the murders, has been given jail credit for those sixteen months behind bars. After being arrested in the case, Dixon was initially held in the DeKalb County Jail without bond for violation of probation and for failure to appear. He was later transferred to the Henderson County Jail.
State prosecutors called only one witness Monday to testify as to the proof in the case, TBI Special Agent Dan Friel.
Dixon was represented by Allison West, assistant District Public Defender.
After being alerted to the shooting, the Smithville Police Department responded to Beacham's residence at 311 Tommy Harrell Street on August 7, 2012 and discovered Beacham shot to death on the couch in his home. Ticante was also found murdered and his body hidden under a tarp and some lumber in the backyard of the residence. TBI investigated the murders with the Smithville Police Department, DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and the 13th Judicial District Attorney General's Office.
"He (Dixon) shot Mr. Beacham twice in the chest with a 22 caliber pistol," said Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong in an interview with WJLE on Monday. "He (Dixon) then shot Mr. Ticante once in the chest with a pistol. After the shooting, he (Dixon) pulled Ticante's body from the house and put it in the back yard underneath a stack of lumber. Dixon later sold a pistol and offered a bill of sale with the pistol with his name on it. TBI, the Smithville Police Department, and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department investigated the case and quickly identified Dixon as a suspect. Dixon was picked up and interviewed. He confessed on three different occasions to shooting these two men. The bodies were examined by the medical examiner's office and found to have been shot with a small caliber weapon in the torso area," he said.
Although Dixon confessed to the killings, Strong said he gave no reason to investigators as to why he committed the murders. "We didn't establish a motive. That's all kind of speculation. We wouldn't want to say what we think (the motive was) because we don't know that," he said.
Months after being indicted and arraigned for the double murder, Dixon underwent an evaluation by a Clinical Psychologist at Plateau Mental Health Center in Cookeville to determine his competency to stand trial.
In a letter to the court, Dr. Sandra DeMott Phillips, the Clinical Psychologist who conducted the evaluation, wrote that Dixon "has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and a rational as well as a factual understanding of the proceedings against him".
Dr. Phillips further wrote "After completion of the evaluation, it is my opinion that at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the alleged offenses, severe mental disease or defect did not prevent the defendant (Dixon) from appreciating the nature or wrongfulness of the alleged acts."
In July, a December 2 trial date was set for Dixon.
Had he gone to trial and been convicted on the original charges of first degree murder, Dixon could have been facing life with or without parole.
The range of punishment for second degree murder is 30-50 years but under this plea agreement, Dixon is getting a total sentence of 35 years of which he must serve at least 85% or 29 years and nine months before his release eligibility date.
Dixon has a lengthy criminal history in DeKalb County including charges for possession of a handgun while under the influence, manufacture and delivery of a schedule IV controlled substance, assault, public intoxication, violation of an order of protection, aggravated assault, theft, domestic assault, and simple possession.