The shooter and two co-defendants convicted in the 2019 killing of Hall County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Blane Dixon want a new trial.
Admitted triggerman Hector Garcia-Solis along with Eric Velazquez were convicted of malice murder, while London Clements was found guilty of felony murder in July 2021.
A fourth man in the case, Brayan Omar Cruz, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault against a peace officer and conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. The prosecution dismissed the murder counts against Cruz.
Velazquez and Clements were sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole, while Garcia-Solis was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
All four were 17 when Dixon was killed.
The men were in a stolen car Dixon was trying to stop July 7, 2019. The car was believed to be tied to a crime spree involving more than 20 stolen guns.
After the car crashed, Dixon chased the suspects on foot and encountered Garcia-Solis. Garcia-Solis shot Dixon as the two exchanged gunfire.
At trial, when asked by a defense attorney who fired the fatal shot, Garcia-Solis answered: “It was me.”
The motion for a new trial filed by Garcia-Solis’ trial attorney does not list specifics other than that the verdict was “contrary to the evidence” and “strongly against the weight of the evidence.”
Garcia-Solis’ defense attorney Ralph Villani declined to comment.
For the two men who did not fire shots at Dixon, one argues he was not culpable for Dixon’s death, writing in his motion that his involvement in the case ended after the car chase and before the shooting. The other argues that the trial should not have happened in Hall County.
Clements and his attorney, Ivars Lacis, filed a lengthy amended motion for a new trial in late July stating why they believe the convictions should be vacated.
Felony murder is charged when a suspect causes the death of another person in the commission of a felony, and Clements’ felony murder conviction was predicated on a conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary.
Lacis argued that the conspiracy to commit burglary ended “with the car crash after the police chase.”
“Because the conspiracy had ended, Clements is not culpable for the shooting death of Deputy Sheriff Dixon by Garcia, which took place after the conspiracy had ended,” Lacis wrote.
Lacis also argued Clements was no longer a part of the conspiracy because he ran in the opposite direction as his other three co-defendants.
Velazquez and his defense said they believed the court should have allowed the case to be heard in another court instead of Hall County, according to Velazquez’s motion. The defendants had previously argued that the pre-trial publicity and general knowledge of the case in the community would taint the jury.
Hall County court officials said 600 people were summoned for the jury pool the week of the trial.
Velazquez and his defense also said there was no evidence that Velazquez was involved in the burglaries prior to Dixon’s death and that Velazquez had ineffective counsel at his trial.
Velazquez’s defense attorney James Luttrell and Lacis declined to comment.
The hearings for Clements’ and Velazquez’s motions are set to be heard Friday, Aug. 26.
Garcia-Solis’ motion for a new trial was previously scheduled for Friday, but Superior Court Judge Jason Deal’s office said it has been postponed to a date to be determined.