BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — A 30-year-old woman who abused a Bellingham toddler to death will spend several decades in prison.
After a two-hour hearing Tuesday, Whatcom County Superior Court Judge David Freeman sentenced Kamee Nicole Dixon to 34 years in prison, with three years probation, the Bellingham Herald reported.
A jury found Dixon guilty June 30 of homicide by abuse for the 2019 death of 3-year-old Hazel Journey Homan. Dixon was also charged with second-degree murder, but a mistrial was declared because the jury was deadlocked and couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.
The murder charge was dismissed without prejudice at Dixon’s sentencing hearing.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the child’s death a homicide.
Dixon was not the child’s biological mother, but was her primary caregiver and in a relationship with her biological father, Brandon Homan.
Dixon’s lawyers argued that Hazel’s death was a “tragic accident” that occurred after she choked on a breakfast sandwich and the lack of oxygen to her brain resulted in her death.
But prosecutors argued that Dixon hit Hazel until the child suffered a traumatic brain injury that resulted in her death. During the trial, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Erik Sigmar said the child suffered repeated abuse at the hands of Dixon over the last five months of her life.
Dixon is the first person to be charged, tried and convicted for homicide by abuse, which has been a criminal charge since 1987, by the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office.