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Court officials choose site to host trial in Dixon slaying
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Hall County Sheriff's Office Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon. - photo by Hall County Sheriff's Office

Court officials are planning to use Lanier Technical College’s Ramsey Conference Center as an alternate venue for the murder trial in the death of Hall County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon .

Chief Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin signed an order Tuesday, April 20, to designate the space from June 21 through July 11 as a place to conduct court business.

London Alexander Clements, Brayan Omar Cruz, Eric Edgardo Velazquez and Hector Garcia-Solis were all charged with malice murder in an August 2019 indictment in the fatal shooting of Dixon.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Dixon attempted to stop a stolen vehicle July 7, 2019, that was occupied by four men, which led to a chase.

Dixon and another deputy encountered Garcia-Solis at Highland Avenue in Gainesville, where gunshots were fired, according to the GBI.

Dixon was shot once and died from the wound, according to authorities.

From left, Hector Garcia-Solis, London Clements, Brayan Omar Cruz and Eric Edgardo Velazquez.

Jury selection in the case is expected to start June 21.

“Our commitment to social distancing and adherence to (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines continue to be important to us, and they are currently mandated by the Georgia Supreme Court,” court administrator Jason Stephenson said in a statement. “With a larger facility such as the Ramsey Center, we will be able to accommodate the space requirements for trials such as this one.”

Stephenson told The Times roughly 20 different locations around Gainesville and Hall County were vetted to find a location that could host this trial.

David Hoffer, one of the attorneys for Garcia-Solis, said they have been able to tour the facility with the judge and court security.

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Visitors to Lanier Technical College enter the Wilbur and Dixie Ramsey Conference Center on the new Hall County campus Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 following a ribbon cutting ceremony. - photo by Scott Rogers

A trial with multiple defendants means there needs to be separate space for attorneys to meet with their clients, separate defense counsel tables and other accommodations that created a logistical challenge for court administration.

Even at a 60% discount offered by the college, the cost of reserving the conference center for three weeks comes to $25,440. According to an event order sheet, the typical weekday cost for the full conference center is $2,800 daily, and that goes to $3,600 daily on the weekend.

Because the trial period could run through the Fourth of July holiday, Stephenson said they opted to pay to control the space for the whole three weeks to eliminate the possibility of someone else wanting to rent during that time. 

The issue was presented Monday, April 19, to the Hall County board of commissioners during the work session with a voting meeting set for Thursday, April 22.

The last day for a negotiated plea in the case is May 3. The trial will be held before Superior Court Judge Jason Deal.