Before he handed down the sentence, McDowell said he considered Dixon’s troubled childhood, including an incident in which Dixon witnessed his father bludgeon his mother to death with a hammer.
“I simply cannot ignore the fact that your (criminal) record is atrocious,” McDowell said as he rattled off a list of Dixon’s previous charges.
Those charges included a guilty plea to a count of second-degree murder that Dixon entered in August 2003 in Baltimore City Circuit Court. In that case, he was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison, with all but 10 years suspended.
In the case for which he was sentenced Tuesday, the girl told a teacher in September 2012 that she had been sexually abused by Dixon, a claim that Hagerstown Police Department officers later investigated. The girl told police that Dixon had been drinking when he made inappropriate contact with her on the night of Aug. 31, 2012.
Instead of being arrested on a warrant, Dixon — who was on parole for the 2003 murder — was charged by summons.
On Feb. 16, Dixon got into an argument with the girl’s mother at a Jonathan Street home, Washington County Assistant State’s Attorney Brett Wilson told the court on Tuesday. When the girl came to the top of the stairs and told Dixon to stop, he stabbed her with a 6-inch kitchen knife, court records say.
When police arrived, they found the girl “on the front porch steps with a knife handle sticking out of her chest,” Wilson told the court during the May 13 plea hearing.
The fact that no one removed the knife until emergency medical personnel took her to the hospital “probably saved her life,” Wilson said at that time.
“It did plunge through ribs,” Wilson said Tuesday. “It punctured several organs.”
The knife lacerated the girl’s diaphragm, liver and peritoneum — the membrane lining the abdominal cavity, according to court records.
Wilson said the girl has made a full recovery.
Wilson asked that McDowell sentence Dixon to 40 years.
“This young girl did nothing to bring this on herself,” Wilson said, noting the girl has forgiven Dixon, but believed he should be punished.
Deputy District Public Defender Eric Reed said during the sentencing hearing that Dixon’s alcohol abuse played a major role in the crimes.
“He certainly isn’t proud .... I think alcohol was a part of his huge lapse in judgment,” Reed said.
Dixon, who sat through much of the proceedings with his head down, briefly addressed the court, saying he came to Hagerstown from Baltimore to find a better life.
“The events that took place ... I never wanted to happen,” he said. “I’m deeply sorry.”