More than seven years after a jury rejected Jimmie Dixon’s insanity defense and convicted the former U.S. Army soldier of a vicious attack on his then-wife and her daughter, he’s seeking a new trial or an evidentiary hearing on his insanity claim.
The attack, which occurred during rush-hour traffic on Interstate 10 near downtown Baton Rouge, left Samantha Dixon with 13 stab wounds and her 2-year-old daughter, Jamia Dixon, with a large butcher knife stuck in her head.
Both victims survived the Sept. 22, 2006, assault, but Jamia lost her sight.
Jimmie Dixon, who is serving a 70-year prison term, now is asking a Baton Rouge federal judge to reverse his kidnapping and attempted murder convictions and sentence and either grant him a new trial or an evidentiary hearing on his insanity claim.
Dixon contends he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and could not tell right from wrong at the time of the attack.
“The facts of the offense itself — namely that it was committed in the view of a host of eyewitnesses, in rush hour traffic where there was no real opportunity for escape and within the view of a police vehicle — suggest that Mr. Dixon was not behaving as someone who understood that his conduct was wrong and should be concealed,” Dixon argues in the petition he filed Jan. 29 in U.S. District Court.
Dixon, who pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity before the trial, contends the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office “voraciously” prosecuted an insane man.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Thursday his office has not received Dixon’s petition and therefore will not comment on his allegations.
But Moore noted that, in addition to the jury, the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court both unanimously rejected Dixon’s argument that he had proven insanity at his 2007 trial.
Attempts to reach Samantha Dixon for comment were unsuccessful.
From the beginning of the trial, there was no doubt Jimmie Dixon stabbed his wife and her daughter while stuck in rush-hour traffic. The crux of the case was whether Dixon suffered from PTSD and did not know right from wrong at the time of the stabbings.
Psychiatrists differed on whether two tours of duty in Iraq created the disorder in Dixon. There also were questions about whether Dixon experienced combat while with the Army in Iraq — events that could have triggered the disorder.
East Baton Rouge Parish Prison psychiatrist Robert Blanche testified Dixon said he had to kill men, women and children in Iraq and he had to clear away dead bodies.
New Orleans psychiatrist Sarah Deland also testified for the defense and concluded the disorder prevented Dixon from knowing right from wrong during the 2006 attack.
Dixon says Blanche agreed with Deland’s diagnosis of PTSD.
“It is unconscionable to sustain any level of culpability to a defendant who is deemed, by several experts, to be incapable of appreciating right action from wrong action,” Dixon argues.
But psychiatrist Donald Hoppe, who testified for the prosecution, said he evaluated Dixon and reached a different conclusion — that Dixon was obsessed with the fact that his wife had an affair while he was in Iraq.
Samantha Dixon testified the attack occurred after she and her husband attended a hearing in Livingston Parish during which Jimmie Dixon was ordered to pay child and spousal support. He also lost custody of his children.
Prosecutors said there was testimony that Dixon tried to control his wife from the day they got married and he lashed out when he knew he was losing control.
Hoppe also testified Dixon gave him a different version of his service in Iraq, saying Dixon had said he mostly played Nintendo, watched television and ran errands on the base.
Dixon’s federal petition has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick.
If he is retried and found not guilty by reason of insanity, prosecutors said, a hearing would then be held to determine whether he is a danger to himself or others. If it was determined that such a danger existed, he would be confined to a medical facility. If no danger was found, he would still be supervised, prosecutors said.