ZANESVILLE: An Ohio jury saw gruesome pictures of a woman set on fire and left to die while hearing Tuesday from prosecutors who described how the man charged in her death beat her, burned her and listened to her moan.
The death penalty case against LaFonse Dixon is underway in Zanesville.
Dixon has pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping and arson in the August 2012 death of 29-year-old Celeste Fronsman, who was discovered badly burned on a roadside by a passing motorist.
Prosecutors showed the jury two pictures of Fronsman: one from before the attack and another from after that showed an almost unrecognizable Fronsman in a hospital bed, her skin charred a dark brown, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
The Canton woman died two days after she was found severely injured and with a strap around her neck.
Two younger women arrested with Dixon pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and agreed to testify against him to avoid the death penalty. Under the deals, the Muskingum County Prosecutor’s Office is expected to recommend life in prison without parole for one of the women, Katrina Culberson, and life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years for the other, Monica Washington.
The newspaper reported prosecutors told the jury that Fronsman’s death was an act of revenge for snitching on Dixon, who allegedly was a drug dealer in Canton. Defense attorneys countered that it was the outcome of a disagreement between prostitutes carried out by Culberson and Washington.
In a jailhouse interview with the Times Recorder in Zanesville last year, Dixon, 34, confessed he was a drug dealer but denied involvement in Fronsman’s death and said he was with family and friends when she was attacked. Dixon said he had seen his sister die in a house fire and wouldn’t “do anything like that to someone.”