CANTON -- The Fifth District Court of Appeals turned down a Canton woman's appeal of her convictions and sentence for arson and domestic violence.
Danielle Faith Dixon was sent to prison in November 2012 for seven years after a Stark County Common Pleas Court jury found her guilty of the July 1, 2012, incident in which she hit her boyfriend, Jerry Lanksford, in the head with a cell phone, sprayed him with lighter fluid, and set a fire in a bedroom of their home.
Dixon filed an appeal earlier this year claiming, among other things, her sentence was vindictive because she chose to take her case to trial instead of taking a plea deal.
In the decision filed this week, Judge John W. Wise included a quote from the common pleas judge who cautioned Dixon, after she had turned down the prosecutor's offer for a plea deal that would have resulted in four years in prison, that she was facing a possible 18 years in prison.
"The above quote from the trial court judge provides every indication to us that if the jury trial would indeed proceed from that point, he intended to base his sentencing decision on the relevant factors as they developed," Wise wrote.
"Upon review, we find appellant has not met her burden on appeal to demonstrate that the higher sentence she ultimately received was based on vindictiveness or retaliation on the part of the trial court."
In her appeal, Dixon also brought up allegations that the evidence presented during the trial could have pointed to Lanksford setting the fire and making her look guilty - all in an attempt to end their relationship.
"Upon review of both the State's witnesses and appellant's testimony as the sole defense witness, we are unpersuaded that the jury lost its way in assessing the evidence in this case," Judge Wise added.
" ... [W]e find the jury's decision did not create a manifest miscarriage of justice requiring that appellant's convictions be reversed and a new trial ordered."
Joining in the decision to reject Dixon's appeals were Judge Sheila G. Farmer and Judge Craig R. Baldwin. The Fifth District Court of Appeals has jurisdiction in 15 counties and is based in Canton.