Teresa Hattie Dixon, the teenager on trial in the beating death of a young Woodbridge mother, testified yesterday that she kicked the woman as "payback."
During her murder trial in Prince William County Circuit Court yesterday, Dixon testified that she kicked Natalie Giles Davis lightly during a fight as retaliation for an earlier hit to the face. But Dixon, 18, denied allegations that she kicked a "helpless" Davis after Davis's head had been slammed into the ground by another teenager.
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys closed their cases yesterday afternoon, and the 12-member jury deliberated for 2 1/2 hours before Circuit Court Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. recessed the trial until this morning. The jury of 10 women and two men is expected to return a verdict on one charge of murder by the end of today.
In his closing argument yesterday, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney James A. Willett argued that Dixon not only played a role in the June attack, but rendered a solid kick to Davis's head after she had been severely beaten and was lying unconscious on the sidewalk. A few days after the attack, Davis, 25, died of severe brain swelling.
Witnesses have testified that Davis became embroiled in a fight after telling a group of five teenagers to move their car, which had been blocking the exit to the Bentley Circle town house community in Woodbridge. Davis, her two young children and several other relatives had been on their way to a church meeting.
Willett accused Dixon of lying both to police and the jury, claiming that the teenager changed her story to shift blame to another girl who was involved in the beating.
"No matter who started the fight, when they go to the point where Natalie couldn't defend herself, there was no reason, no earthly right, for them to smash her head on the pavement and kick her," Willett said in his closing arguments.
Dixon, of the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, testified that she was a secondary player in the attack and had originally gotten involved in an attempt to separate Davis and Kurebia Maria Hampton, 16, who were violently attacking each other after exchanging words.
"I was about to put my hands between them, when Ms. Davis backhanded me," Dixon said, demonstrating how she remembered a hand slapping her across the face. Dixon testified that Hampton then got on top of Davis and "that's when I kicked her . . . because she hit me."
Dixon said that after she backed away from the fight, Hampton grabbed Davis by the hair, slammed her head into the concrete sidewalk and "got up and stomped her on the head."
Defense attorney Mark Yaeger told the jury that it should consider Dixon's role in the fight as completely "independent" of Hampton's involvement. Hampton, who has been charged as an adult with murder, is scheduled to go to trial Nov. 1.
Willett told the jury he will seek a first-degree murder conviction against Hampton, who witnesses testified was the primary attacker. Willett said that if Dixon was in any way involved in helping Hampton carry out the attack, she is just as guilty of the same crime under the law.
"The defense in this case is one of relativity . . . that relative to the defendant, [Hampton] is a very bad person," Willett told the jury. "Natalie isn't relatively dead; she's completely dead. [Dixon] helped [Hampton]. She was there, and she helped."
Yaeger called two additional witnesses, both of whom testified as to Dixon's character and her ability to tell the truth. Two of Davis's young relatives testified yesterday as rebuttal witnesses for the commonwealth, indicating that they were certain Dixon kicked Davis in the head after Hampton had dealt a majority of the blows.
A police detective testified Monday that Dixon changed her story several times, and Dixon testified that she was initially not truthful to police because she was "scared." Dixon yesterday maintained that she kicked Davis before Hampton rendered Davis unconscious and that she immediately walked away from the scene.
Relatives of both Davis and Hampton crowded the courtroom yesterday, and several of Davis's family members wore shirts that read, "In loving memory: Natalie Giles Davis."
The jury is scheduled to reconvene at 9:30 this morning.