GAINESVILLE – A larger space has tentatively been secured to safely accommodate the upcoming triple trial of three men accused in the July, 2019, murder of Hall County Sheriff’s Deputy Nicolas Blaine Dixon.
Dixon, a three year veteran with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, was shot while pursuing several auto-theft suspects in the area of Jesse Jewell Parkway and Highland Avenue late in the evening on July 8, 2019. Dixon died at short time later at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville after suffering a single gunshot wound to his abdomen.
Hall County Court Administrator Jason Stephenson appeared Monday afternoon before the Hall County Commission to request authorization to hold trials at the Ramsey Conference Center on the campus of Lanier Technical College.
“The proposal before you is asking for you to consider designating a third off-site facility for our Superior Court felony trials,” Stephenson began. “As you know one of the biggest struggles we’ve had is space at the (Hall County) Courthouse.”
Because of that overcrowding, the county is currently using available space in the Gainesville Municipal Court and at the North Hall Community Center to conduct trials.
According to Hall County documents the greater square-footage at Lanier Tech will allow for proper social distancing during the high-profile trial expected to last up to three weeks according to Stephenson. In addition, the move complies with an order signed by Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Milton on April 9th setting spacial requirements.
“There are three co-defendants in this case that the district attorney intends to try together,” Stephenson added. “So we have negotiated a quote with Lanier Tech to provide two to three weeks of their facility so that we can accommodate both the public, law enforcement and all the court personnel that will be there.”
“It’s something the courts have been working on in consultation with the District Attorney and the Public Defender in order to conduct the trial this summer within the Public Health guidelines,” Stephenson said after the work session.
As to who may attend the trial, Stephenson said, “It will absolutely be open to the public but there will be limited seating…and we plan to have livestream, as well. And we’ll do jury selection onsite at Lanier Tech on June 21st.”
The cost for Hall County to rent the space at Lanier Tech is just over $25,000 and the request is expected to be approved at the commissioners’ voting session Thursday evening.