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Archive for Monday, February 6, 2006

Topekan convicted for second time in fatal 2001 apartment explosion

February 6, 2006

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— A Topeka man has been convicted a second time of murdering a woman and her 13-month-old son in an Emporia apartment explosion in July 2001.

Jurors in Salina on Friday convicted Wallace L. Dixon III, 35, of two counts of felony murder. Dana Hudson, 19, and her son, Gabriel, were killed in the fire after an explosion in an adjacent apartment in the Eastgate Plaza complex.

Dixon was convicted of the same charges in Lyon County District Court in May 2002. He won a new trial last June when the Kansas Supreme Court found prosecutorial errors in the original trial.

Dixon's new trial was set for Lyon County. But Chief Judge Merlin Wheeler in December ordered the trial moved. It was reassigned to Saline County District Court with Lyon County officials traveling there.

The case with a Saline County jury began Jan. 23 before Wheeler. As in the original trial, Lyon County Attorney Marc Goodman shared prosecutorial duties with two lawyers from the Kansas Attorney General's office. On Friday, Goodman said the jury spent about eight hours deliberating the case and brought back a verdict around 1:30 p.m.

Jurors found Dixon guilty of two counts each of felony first-degree murder, aggravated battery and burglary and single counts of felony criminal damage to property and misdemeanor theft. The jury acquitted on additional charges of aggravated arson, aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated battery.

Dixon was scheduled to be sentenced in Lyon County District Court on April 24. In June 2002, Wheeler sentenced Dixon to two life terms with no possibility of parole for 20 years for the murder convictions. The sentences were ordered to run consecutively.

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