Above, Union County Prosecutor Dave Phillips, standing, shows photographs of John Dixon’s bruised face to Marysville Police Sgt. Terry Basinger, seated in the witness box. Basinger testified that he took DNA samples from Dixon at Ohio State University Hospital. Todd Lane, seated facing away from the camera on the right, is accused of murdering Dixon. The trial against Lane is in its third day.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)
The trial of accused murderer Todd Lane is entering its third day today.
Lane, 44, of 627 E. Fourth St., in Marysville, is charged with one count of murder in connection to the death of his roommate and longtime friend John Dixon on May 29, 2017. Additionally, Lane is charged with one count of felonious assault for allegedly assaulting another man who tried to break up a fight between Lane and Dixon. He is also charged with tampering with evidence after he allegedly used a sink in the police station to wash blood off of himself.
Tuesday, Keith Cornelius and Lori Bowman testified they were in the home at 627 E. Fourth St., in Marysville in the early morning hours of May 27, 2017, when the initial fight between Dixon and Lane began. Cornelius testified that he and Bowman were best friends with Lane and Dixon.
“So this is a hard case for you?” Union County Prosecutor Dave Phillips asked.
“Very,” Cornelius responded.
The witnesses testified that Lane met Cornelius and Bowman at the Flamingo bar.
Bowman testified that Lane just had not been himself that night. She said it was difficult to explain, but he was “a little more rowdy than normal.”
Lane and Cornelius went to another bar before returning to the Flamingo. Cornelius said Dixon eventually arrived and Dixon left soon after. When the bar closed, Cornelius said, he bought a case of beer and he left with Dixon and Bowman. The group went back to the Fourth Street home.
Bowman said she did not know Lane was home. She said she went upstairs and decided to lay down in Lane’s bed. She said Lane agreed she could and the two went to sleep. Bowman said that at some point, Dixon came upstairs and the men began to fight quickly. She said the men were fighting in the hallway and it was a period of time before she could get past and go downstairs to ask Cornelius for help. Cornelius said that when he came upstairs, Lane disengaged from Dixon and asked him if he also wanted to fight.
“I really don’t know why, it just escalated into that,” Cornelius testified.
He said they were “more or less just wrestling around.” He said Lane bit him, scratched him and pulled a large clump of hair out of his head.
Bowman testified that she got a black eye in the scuffle as a result of the scuffle.
Cornelius testified that he left the scene and Dixon went outside to call police. He said he returned moments later when he heard police and an ambulance headed to the scene.
A variety of dispatchers and police officers testified about the night of the incident and the difficulty in finding the scene. Dixon actually gave dispatchers the wrong address, then confirmed it. The jury heard the 911 call.
When police arrived at the address Dixon gave, they recognized there was nothing there and began to look for the actual scene. Marysville Police Department Dispatcher Tara Henley looked up prior incidents with Dixon and determined the correct address.
Marysville police officer Alex Joseph was the first to arrive at the scene. He said Lane was standing over Dixon, who was lying on the porch of the house.
“I yelled at him, ‘Don’t go in the house,’” Joseph testified.
“But he went into the house?” Phillips asked.
“Yes,” Joseph said.
The officer said he wrestled with Lane before another officer helped him get Lane subdued and handcuffed.
A variety of officers testified Dixon was struggling to breathe and was laying in a pool of blood and other bodily fluids.
Dr. Kristina Kundiff, an emergency department doctor at Memorial Hospital, testified that she treated Dixon on the morning of the alleged assault. She said trauma of the fight “probably” caused him to not be able to breathe.
“The truth is, you don’t really know what caused it do you?” Defense attorney Sam Shamansky asked.
“Correct,” Kundiff said.
Shamansky questioned her treatment and her preparation for the trial. He and the doctor spent time discussing the condition of Dixon’s heart. She had initially said there was no blockage of the arteries around his heart, but under questioning said she “misspoke.” She said it wasn’t a blockage but “a narrowing.”
Shamansky asked about other factors that could have negatively impacted Dixon’s heart.
“He was obese,” Kundiff said.
“Morbidly so,” Shamansky said.
“Correct,” Kundiff said.
Shemansky asked about Dixon’s blood alcohol level, which was recorded at .286. Kundiff said that was “not necessarily” a dangerous level.
She said she was not a cardiologist and was not testifying as an expert in anything other than the emergency room care Dixon received.
The jury also saw a video deposition from Emily K. Hanson, who had worked for the Franklin County Coroner’s Office and performed the autopsy on Dixon. She testified that she ruled the manner of death as homicide, the result of blunt force injuries.
The prosecution is expected to conclude its case today. Court officials say they anticipate the trial will last until Thursday. Lane is in Tri-County Regional Jail with bond set at $500,000.
A conviction on the murder charge would carry a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years to life. The other charges could add an additional 11 years if convicted.
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