A Prince William County jury recommended yesterday that Teresa Hattie Dixon, 18, be sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for her role in the death of a Woodbridge woman who was killed in front of her two children in a fight with a group of teenage girls.
Jurors could have urged up to 10 years for Dixon, whom they convicted Thursday of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the savage attack on Natalie Giles Davis, 25, which came after a dispute over a car blocking her cul-de-sac.
Davis's relatives praised the jury yesterday through a spokesman; the trial showed that Dixon's involvement in the fight was limited. On Thursday, before the jury began deliberating a sentence, Dixon had sobbed in court as she apologized to Davis's relatives, who responded by calling out that they forgave her.
"The Davis family believes that justice has been served," said Julian Grante, a spokesman for the family. "They were moved and touched by Teresa's comments of remorse and her apology. Their sense of it all now, after hearing of all her limitations, is that she is also a victim."
Dixon could end up going free earlier than the jury recommends. Circuit Court Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. will impose a sentence in December, and state guidelines call for anywhere from zero to six months, given that Dixon had no criminal record of violence.
As the jury's recommendation was read yesterday, Dixon turned and smiled at her relatives, several of whom exclaimed "Yes!" as it was read. Dixon's mother declined to comment after the hearing.
Witnesses testified during the sentencing phase of her trial that Dixon is mentally retarded and has an IQ of 70, evidence that could not be presented during the trial because Dixon did not enter an insanity plea.
Two jurors, speaking briefly yesterday on condition that their names not be published, said the jury chose voluntary manslaughter rather than first- or second-degree murder because jurors believed Dixon's role in the attack was far more limited than the one played by Kurebia Maria Hampton, 17, who is scheduled to stand trial for murder as an adult Nov. 1.
The jurors said they believed Dixon kicked Davis intentionally but didn't intend to kill her. They wouldn't discuss their deliberations about a sentencing recommendation. Other jurors declined to be interviewed.
Dixon, of the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, originally faced a charge of first-degree murder for kicking Davis during a fight that broke out after Davis yelled at a group of girls who were blocking a residential street with their car. Dixon testified that she kicked Davis once in the head as retaliation for a hit to the face earlier in the fight.
Dixon and several other witnesses testified that Hampton was the main aggressor in the fight. According to testimony, Hampton threw Davis to the ground, straddled her, repeatedly slammed her head into the pavement and then stomped on her head. Davis, who had been on her way to church with several relatives, died a few days later as a result of severe brain injuries.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney James A. Willett said he was satisfied by the verdict and the recommended sentence in Dixon's trial, calling it a "relatively complex case."
"Given her limited participation, her age, her perceived lack of mental capacity, it's a fair decision," Willett said. "Her participation was very, very limited. I feel that she contributed to [Davis's] death, but that contribution was what it was: very minimal."
Willett said he will attempt to prove a first-degree murder case against Hampton and indicated that there may be additional arrests made in the case. Three other girls were present during the attack on Davis.