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Deputy Dixon trial: Day by day coverage in case of Hall deputy's death in shootout
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Assistant District Attorney Harold Buckler holds Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon's vest for the jury to see during opening statements Tuesday, June 22, 2021, in Hall County Superior Court during the murder trial concerning Dixon's death. - photo by Scott Rogers

Sentencing, July 8: Sentencing began just after 9 a.m. July 8, with family of those convicted testifying on their behalf and asking for leniency. Hector Garcia-Solis also testified again, and  Chief Assistant District Attorney Wanda Vance called law enforcement and hospital workers to the stand to testify about Garcia-Solis' behavior while in custody.

Read the developing story.

Day 10, July 2: Chief Assistant District Attorney Wanda Vance spoke with The Times about the two years she and other assistant DAs spent preparing to prosecute the Dixon murder case. We have her reaction, along with that of the officer who was with Dixon that night, the sheriff, the district attorney and more. The Times has also contacted attorneys for the defense.

Read the story.

Day 9, July 1: A jury has found all three suspects accused in the shooting death of Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon guilty on all charges.

The jury deliberated a total of about four hours before returning to a packed courtroom at noon July 1 to read the verdict. Read the story.

Day 8, June 30: The prosecutor and the defense attorneys presented their closing arguments Wednesday, June 30, in the Deputy Dixon murder trial.

The opposing sides argued whether the suspects were planning to commit a burglary or robbery on July 7, 2019, before Dixon was shot or if it was just talk. Though Hector Garcia-Solis’ defense has not contested most of the charges, his defense attorney Rob McNeill said there was no malice in what happened that night.

Superior Court Judge Jason Deal granted London Clements’ motion for a directed verdict on three of the charges — malice murder, aggravated assault on a peace officer and felony murder predicated on aggravated assault on a peace officer — meaning the jury will not consider these charges.

Deal wrote in the motion that the court “finds that the state has failed to present sufficient evidence to support the charges” in these three counts.

There are still two other charges Clements faces in the indictment: conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary and felony murder predicated on that conspiracy.

The jury began deliberations Wednesday and will resume Thursday.

Read the full story.

Day 7, June 29: The prosecution presented the last of its witnesses, including Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Jamie Abercrombie, during the sixth day of evidence in the Deputy Dixon murder trial.

The accused trigger man in the shooting of Dixon took the stand Tuesday afternoon.

In tearful testimony, Hector Garcia-Solis said, "It was me," when asked who the person was seen on body cam footage exchanging gunfire with Dixon.

Read the latest update.

Day 6, June 28: The fifth day of evidence in the Deputy Dixon murder trial focused on the examination of the scene on Highland Avenue, where Dixon was shot.

The prosecution called witnesses including Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Elaina Honea about what was found in the aftermath.

Around 2:30 p.m., the district attorney's office brought the firearms examiner to the stand. Much discussion centered on where the participants in the gunfight were standing, and whether they moved during the battle.

Read the full story.

Day 5, June 25: Hall County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Charles Hewell testified Friday that he and Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon were running parallel to one another to find four people July 7, 2019, who ran from a stolen car.

"As I come onto Highland (Avenue) ... I hear him yell, 'Hey sarge, I have one.' He's about two houses in front of me, so I begin to run towards him," Hewell testified.

Dixon's watch commander went on to describe the shootout, his encounter with the alleged gunman, and his grief after Dixon's death.

Read the full story.

Day 4, June 24: Co-defendant Brayan Cruz testified Thursday that he was hiding under a shed nearby when he heard Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon give commands to Hector Garcia-Solis to show his hands. The he heard shots.

“It got quiet for a few seconds, and all I heard was boom, boom, boom,” Cruz said.

Cruz gave a much more detailed picture of what happened the night Dixon was killed, describing how he said the defendants drove around looking for places to rob, and how they fled from police after Dixon tried to stop their car.

The 19-year-old had his case severed from the other three defendants, and testified in court he wanted to "tell the truth" to try to get a "second chance."

Read the compete story.

Read more coverage about the case.

Day 3, June 23: Evidence presentation resumed Wednesday morning with more details emerging, as investigators and representatives from businesses testified about the timeline of events in the days surrounding Deputy Blane Dixon's slaying.

The prosecution called Oakwood Police Lt. Todd Templeton, who testified about the burglary investigations in the week ahead of the Dixon shooting.

As he and other agencies began investigating reports of similar burglaries in the area, Templeton said he had an “immediate concern” about suspects getting into a location that sold firearms.

“The manner in which the burglary occurred at Swap and Trade was just out in the open,” Templeton said. “It seemed very bold in the manner that it occurred, not typical of a typical burglary that I’ve worked in the past where someone tries to hide their actions.” Read the full story.

Day 2, June 22: Opening statements began Tuesday afternoon. Attorneys outlined how they expected the evidence of the trial to go, which has been allotted roughly three weeks of time.

Assistant District Attorney Harold Buckler played bodycam footage including Dixon's camera that night, showing the foot chase and gunshots that led to his death.

Defense attorney Jason Wilson, representing Eric Velazquez, asked the jury to analyze each of the allegations against his client individually, adding that he felt there would be no evidence linking Velazquez to the murder.

Defense attorney Dan Sammons, representing London Clements, discussed the possibly questionable credibility of witnesses who may be called.

It was disclosed that investigators had placed tracking devices on vehicles believed to be stolen or involved in several crimes, and one of those vehicles was stopped by Deputy Dixon the night of his death. Read the full story.

Day 1, June 21: Prosecutors and defense attorneys began polling potential jurors Monday, June 21, to determine a jury.

The attorneys asked the potential jurors about their interactions or familiarity with law enforcement and prosecutors.

Superior Court Judge Jason Deal asked for potential jurors who have been questioned by the attorneys to return at 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 22. Read the full story.

Background: Hall County Sheriff's Office Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon, 28, was attempting July 7, 2019, to stop a stolen vehicle that was occupied by four people. The people in the car ran, and Dixon encountered one of them on Highland Avenue in Gainesville, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The GBI said gunfire was exchanged, and Dixon was fatally shot.

Three of the four Gainesville men indicted in the crime — Hector Garcia-Solis, 19, London Clements, 18, and Eric Velazquez, 19 — are slated for trial beginning June 21. The fourth man, Brayan Cruz, 19, had his case severed, according to court documents, and his trial will follow at a later date.

All four have been charged with malice murder among other counts in the August 2019 indictment. Read more coverage about the case.

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