Hector Garcia-Solis will have a lifetime to wonder why he shot Deputy Dixon
“I just don’t get why it was him and not me … a fool like me,” Hector Garcia-Solis told the courtroom Thursday during sentencing in the murder of Hall County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon.
Dixon’s wife, Stephanie Dixon, later in testimony responded, describing the cries of her little boy at night: “Why my daddy?”
The sentencing hearing July 8 in Judge Jason Deal’s courtroom in Hall County Superior Court was full of emotional testimony from all sides.
There were pleas for leniency from the family of those responsible for Dixon’s death. Pleas for the maximum sentence from Dixon’s family, who said those who took his life should be separated from their loved ones as they are from Dixon. Those convicted in the case were 17 at the time, making the maximum sentence life without parole.
Garcia-Solis, who admitted to shooting Dixon, addressed Dixon’s family, saying “I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done to y’all” and saying he asks Dixon for forgiveness in his prayers.
“I do not forgive y’all at all,” Dixon’s father, Fred Dixon, said later.
Garcia-Solis along with Eric Velazquez were found guilty July 1 of malice murder in the July 7, 2019, death of Dixon. Co-defendant London Clements was found guilty of felony murder. Garcia-Solis admitted to pulling the trigger.
Clements and Velazquez were both sentenced July 8 to life in prison with the chance of parole.
In addressing Garcia-Solis during the sentence, Judge Deal referenced the courage of Dixon, paused to compose his emotions, and said "Mr. Garcia, you didn't show courage." The courageous thing would have been to stop, he said, rather than run.
Deal said he had never sentenced a 17-year-old to life without parole, before giving Garcia-Solis that sentence.
In impact statements, Dixon’s family spoke of his life and how the loss has affected them.
“No one had the right to take him away from me,” his mother Jada Dixon said, describing the emptiness in Dixon’s family where Blane should be.
Dixon’s wife called the impact immeasurable.
His older brother, Zack, described him as loving life more than anybody, someone who brightened any room and had a contagious smile and laugh.
He went on to describe his brother’s relationship with his boys, one who loved practicing baseball with his dad and the other who was born premature and got just 103 days with his father before he was killed.
“How do you explain to them what happened to their father?,” he asked. Zack Dixon also told the courtroom he does not forgive those convicted in his brother’s death.
Zack’s wife, Kayla, said they should not get the chance to live outside in the free world when they robbed Blane Dixon of that.
Blane Dixon’s younger brother, Jeremy, spoke on behalf of himself and his son, who was 6 at the time of Blane Dixon’s death.
“I miss my uncle. He was nice to me, he would play with me, that’s why I want the bad guys to stay in jail,” Jeremy Dixon read from his child’s statement.
Jeremy Dixon, speaking to those responsible for his brother’s death said "your words mean nothing," actions show what you really mean.
Garcia-Solis’s mother testified in Spanish, asking for a second opportunity for son and saying he didn't think of all the consequences.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Wanda Vance questioned Garcia-Solis about spitting at others, flicking them off, kicking, grabbing at women and pointing a finger gun when he was in custody. Garcia-Solis said he didn’t remember most of those incidents. Vance called several law enforcement officers and a hospital employee to the stand who described those behaviors.
Vance also asked him why he didn’t plead guilty to malice murder since he admitted what happened was his fault. Garcia-Solis said he didn’t have “malice in him,” and if he did he would have brought the big guns, referring to that night Dixon was shot.
Vance later, speaking directly to Garcia-Solis told him he was shooting finger guns at officers after killing their friend.
Velazquez’s sister and a family friend described Velazquez as a teen who made mistakes but who was not the monster the state painted him to be.
"He really didn't have nobody to look up to," Velazquez’s sister told the courtroom, saying he lived with his grandmother. His mother was deported when he was 3, and their father also was deported, she said. A family friend also described his home life, saying he didn’t have the same opportunities as those with two parents at home.
Vance asked both witnesses whether they were aware Velazquez’s grandmother helped load some of the stolen guns that have been key to the case. Both said they were not aware of that.
Vance later argued a hard childhood does not excuse the maliciousness of the crime.
"As a mother, my heart breaks," Vance said, lecturing Velazquez about his bad choices.
“At the end of the day, my son’s still dead,” Dixon’s mother said.
Editor in Chief Shannon Casas contributed to this article.
This article originally published in our sister paper the Gainesville Times.