In an emotional statement in Manhattan Supreme Court, a sister of Islan Nettles said the 12 years that James Dixon will spend in prison for the 2013 assault that led to Nettles’ death was too short a sentence.
“Twelve years is not enough because he can go home,” said Skye Nettles through tears at Dixon’s April 19 sentencing. “My sister can’t go home, my sister is dead… It’s not fair. My family is not satisfied with 12 years.”
Dixon was earlier offered 12 years by two judges, including Daniel Conviser, the judge currently hearing his case, but he declined the offer. He pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter after Conviser ruled that statements he gave to police and prosecutors in which he confessed to the crime could be put into evidence at his trial.
Saying “my sister can’t go home,” Skye Nettles terms sentence in killing of her transgender sibling “not fair”
According to those statements, Dixon encountered the 21-year-old transgender woman on a Harlem street. In one statement, the 25-year-old Dixon said he struck Nettles because she laughed at him when he tripped. In another statement, he said he struck her after he began flirting with her and his friends heckled him saying Nettles was a guy. Dixon struck Nettles repeatedly on August 17, 2013.
Delores Nettles, Islan’s mother, also gave a statement before Dixon was sentenced. She spoke directly to Dixon in her statement.
“As far as James Dixon, I would hate you, I would hate you for the rest of your life,” Delores said as she wept. “I hope you die, I hope you rot.”
Nicholas Viorst, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case with Laura Millendorf, also an assistant district attorney, read a statement from Anthony Mundon, Islan’s father.
“She will never have a chance to feel her family’s love,” the statement said. “I was extremely proud of the person she had become.”
Dixon, who was dressed in a jailhouse uniform, remained handcuffed and silent throughout the entire proceeding, which lasted roughly 45 minutes.
Dixon has been in jail since his March 2015 arrest, and that time counts toward his 12-year sentence. If he follows prison rules, he will be eligible for a conditional release after serving six-sevenths, or just over 10 years, of his sentence. He is also subject to five years post-release supervision.
The Nettles case has been plagued by errors from the start. Police initially arrested Paris Wilson, who was 20 in 2013, in the attack. When Dixon came to police days later and confessed to the crime, police and prosecutors doubted his story. At one point in the hour-long videotaped statement he gave to prosecutors and police, the skeptical questioning from authorities was so intense that Dixon said, “I’m not making this up.”
The charges against Wilson were quickly dropped, and he was released from jail. The investigation continued and Dixon was eventually charged with the crime, but some facts in the case gave him a credible defense.
In 2013, police had one witness who said she saw Wilson “strike ___ about the head with a closed fist, causing ___to fall to the ground. Once on the ground, the defendant continued to strike ___ in the face,” according to the 2013 criminal complaint that was filed against Wilson.