Jury about to deliberate fate of suspect in killing at Marshall-Shadeland shop

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Edward Dixon's defense attorney told a jury on Friday that his client's statement to police was coerced and that the young man was not involved in the robbery or shooting of Marshall-Shadeland store owner Michael Ross.

All Mr. Dixon did, said attorney James Wymard, was drive his uncle, who was involved in the robbery, to the hospital after he was shot by Mr. Ross.

But Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Avetta called Mr. Dixon's story at various times "absurd" and "ridiculous," citing witnesses who placed him at the scene, and his saliva being found on a mask worn during the robbery.

A jury sitting before Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman will return on Monday to begin deliberations.

Mr. Ross, 45, was killed in his CM&M Fashion store on Nov. 8, 2008, trying to fend off robbers.

According to the prosecution, two men entered the North Side store about 1:15 that afternoon, demanding money.

When Mr. Ross saw what was happening, he shouted to his father, Fred, who was in the back room, "Dad, it's on."

Fred Ross called 911, and then ran out of the store to get help.

Before he could find it, he heard shots from inside the store. He raced back to see the robbers fleeing and his son dying.

Within days, officers arrested Edward Dixon, and his uncle, Darnell Dixon, who had been shot in the chest during the robbery.

In October, a jury found Darnell Dixon, 25, guilty of second-degree murder, conspiracy and robbery.

He will be sentenced on Feb. 15.

During closing arguments, Mr. Wymard tried to pin the crime on Darnell Dixon, calling Edward Dixon "a victim of circumstance," when his uncle went in to rob the store.

"If you say to yourselves when you get back in the jury room, 'I'm just not sure' that, by its very definition, is a reasonable doubt," he said. "You're being asked to decide my client's whole future. Make no doubt about it.

"There's no room for speculation. There's no room for conjecture. There's no room for probabilities."

Mr. Wymard tried to explain away gunshot residue found on Edward Dixon's hands by saying that his client helped his uncle -- who did fire shots at Mr. Ross -- out of the vehicle at the hospital by his hands.

"If he had done something wrong, don't you think he would have drove him to the hospital and dumped him off?" Mr. Wymard asked the jury.

Instead, after Edward Dixon drove his uncle to the hospital, he stayed there with him.

"He chose not to leave because he hadn't done anything wrong," the defense lawyer said. "Clearly, it was Darnell who did the shooting in this case."

But Mr. Avetta discounted that statement, saying that both Dixons were armed that afternoon -- Darnell Dixon with a .32-caliber revolver, and Edward Dixon with a silver .22-caliber automatic.

"He's trying to put it all on his Uncle Darnell," Mr. Avetta said.

Instead, the prosecutor continued, it was Edward Dixon who fired nine shots into Mr. Ross -- two of them into the man's back.

"All of the facts fit together," he said.

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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