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by Lindsey Collom
Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006 at 5:39 PM
51 years in jail for a hit and run accident??? And the guy turned himself in the next day!
Driver gets 51 years in hit, run wreck that injured 4
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge on Friday handed down the longest sentence ever imposed for a vehicle crime in Maricopa County.
Justin Dixon, 22, was sentenced to 51.25 years of incarceration in connection with a hit-and-run accident in June 2005 in which four people were seriously injured. Before Friday, the longest sentence imposed for a vehicle crime in Maricopa County was 38 years, according to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
"The carnage caused by this man demands a very long prison sentence," County Attorney Andrew Thomas said in a released statement. "The fact that he fled the scene after gravely injuring these four victims argues all the more for maximum punishment."
A jury convicted Dixon on Oct. 2. on four counts of aggravated assault, one count of leaving the scene of a serious injury accident and one count of endangerment.
Commissioner Aimee Anderson said that she crafted the sentence to compensate the victims and that her decision was also influenced by the fact that Dixon had two prior felonies and was on probation at the time of the crash.
Evidence at the trial indicated that, before the collision, Dixon consumed three tequila shots and a 32-ounce beer in an hour while at a bar with his girlfriend. He left alone shortly after midnight, upset that his girlfriend appeared to be flirting with another man.
Authorities said Dixon drove away in his 2003 Chevy Silverado, reaching speeds of up to 98 mph in a 40 mph zone. Police estimated he was going 96 mph when he ran a red light at 43rd Avenue and Greenway Road. He barreled through the intersection, striking several vehicles. Four people were injured. The victims suffered bone fractures and tissue and organ trauma, but no one died. Dixon left the area on foot and called police about 12 hours later. He had been in jail since.
His mother, Sheila Dixon, said she felt for the victims, but her son "is not a criminal."
"It's a lot of time," Sheila Dixon said, tearing up. "Fifty one years? I don't know if I'll be alive to see him get out."
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