Washington Woman Guilty of Abusing Toddler to Death Won't Receive a New Trial


A 30-year-old woman found guilty by a jury last month of abusing a 3-year-old Bellingham girl to death in 2019 will not receive a new trial.

Defense attorneys for Kamee Nicole Dixon filed a motion requesting a new trial in early July, after a jury found Dixon guilty June 30 in Whatcom County Superior Court of homicide by abuse for the Nov. 30, 2019, death of Hazel Journey Homan. Dixon was also charged with second-degree murder, but a mistrial was declared because the jury was deadlocked and couldn't reach a unanimous verdict.

Hazel's death was ruled a homicide Jan. 23, 2020, by the King County Medical Examiner's Office. Dixon was not Hazel's biological mother, but was Hazel's primary caregiver and was in a relationship with Hazel's biological father, Brandon Homan, at the time of the toddler's death.

Dixon's defense attorneys, Emily Beschen and Douglas Hyldahl, argued that Hazel's death was a "tragic accident" that occurred after Hazel choked on a breakfast sandwich and the lack of oxygen to the child's brain resulted in her death.

But the prosecution argued that Dixon hit Hazel until the child suffered a traumatic brain injury that resulted in her death. Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Erik Sigmar said during the trial that over the last five months of her life, Hazel suffered repeated abuse at the hands of Dixon.

Dixon's attorneys alleged Dixon's right to a fair trial had been jeopardized because the jury misunderstood the definition for torture and requested she receive a new trial.

In the court's instructions to the jury, it states that "a person commits the crime of homicide by abuse if, under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life, the person causes the death of a child or person under sixteen years of age, and the person has previously engaged in a pattern or practice of assault or torture of the child or person under sixteen years of age," according to court records.

Hyldahl wrote in the motion for a new trial that several of the jurors, whom he spoke with after a verdict in the case was returned, said they had a hard time determining what was defined as torture and that they considered Dixon's failure to obtain medical treatment for Hazel as "torture," according to court records.

Hyldahl wrote that the court needed to grant Dixon a new trial because an error of law occurred, that the verdict was contrary to the law and the evidence and that substantial justice had not been done, court records show.

In response to the motion, Sigmar, the prosecutor, argued that the juror's thought processes and comments on deliberations become part of the verdict and shouldn't be used to consider whether to grant a motion for a new trial, that there was insufficient feedback from the jury to draw any meaningful conclusions regarding their deliberations, and that there was no error that affected the result of the case, the records state.

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge David Freeman found in a July 18 hearing on the motion for a new trial that the jury was properly instructed and that there was not a need to further define torture, because it was not a technical term that required a definition.

Freeman said during court that had the court further instructed the jury on the definition of torture using the defense's requested definition, it likely would have been more confusing for the jurors.

Freeman then denied Dixon's motion for a new trial.

Dixon's sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 2. She faces up to life in prison.