The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 25, 2013

Assault defendant seeking new trial

EBENSBURG —  A Johnstown man in prison for assaulting another city man – an altercation that led to the other man’s shooting death – is seeking a new trial because he says his sentence is illegal.

Jharon Dixon, 25, is seeking relief from his sentence of 33 to 66 months in state prison. He contends that errors were made in his sentencing and claims that his defense attorney was ineffective.

Dixon pleaded guilty in September to aggravated assault and fleeing to avoid apprehension in exchange for prosecutors dropping a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of James Pelham, 38.

Dixon’s brother Taevon, 22, last month pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and was sentenced by Judge Timothy Creany to 171⁄2 to 40 years in state prison.

Taevon shot and killed Pelham, who authorities said was out celebrating after getting a full-time job that included health care benefits for his four children.

Pelham, the son of a Washington, D.C., police officer, was shot in the chest early on July 11, 2010, on the street outside Taevon Dixon’s house in the city’s Old Conemaugh Borough neighborhood.

City police said Pelham had been drinking with friends and went to the house on Church Street looking for what he thought was an after-hours party.

The Dixon brothers came outside and confronted Pelham after he got out of his car.

According police, Jharon Dixon got into a physical confrontation with Pelham and Taevon pulled out a gun and shot twice. The second shot hit Pelham.

An appeal prepared by Jharon Dixon alleges that the gravity score and points – a scale indicating the seriousness of an offense – used in determining his sentence were incorrect. He also alleges that there were inaccuracies in his presentence investigation which resulted in a sentencing error.

On Monday, Creany appointed a Blair County attorney with the law firm of Lucas Kelleher to assist Dixon in his appeal.

Cambria County Deputy District Attorney Scott Lilly said a hearing date has not been set.

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