Cañon City man accused of first-degree murder pleads guilty to lesser charges

1 month ago Canon City Daily Record

The Cañon City man who was arrested on charges of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Michael Sean Adams on June 29 in Penrose pleaded guilty to two lesser charges Tuesday in district court.

Dustin Wayne Dixon, 34, was arrested Aug. 3 on suspicion of first-degree murder, a Class 1 felony, possession of a weapon by a previous offender, a Class 5 felony, and reckless endangerment, a second-degree misdemeanor.

On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon by a previous offender, a Class 5 felony, and inducement of controlled substances, schedule 3 or 4, a Class 4 drug felony.

Deputy District Attorney Taylor Smith said she was obligated to honor any good-faith offers that were extended before she took over the case. Former DDA Liz Drake had opined that she would not be able to disprove self-defense in the case.

DDA Wendy Owens on Tuesday said she had discussed this case with Drake and with investigators and agreed that there are proof issues.

“It was Ms. Drake’s assessment that Mr. Dixon would have a reasonably strong self-defense argument and that the people cannot disprove that beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said.

During a hearing in November, Drake said the lead investigator in the case had a death in the family and was not available to be at that preliminary hearing.

“I did make a favorable offer for a few reasons,” she said. “Issues with the case came up when we were scurrying to get officers, and I made the offer. The victim is present and objects to the offer, but under the circumstances, I felt it was appropriate.”

Mary LaPerriere, the mother of Jeannette LaPerriere, Adams’ fiancé, read a letter to the judge on her daughter’s behalf during Tuesday’s hearing.

“He died on our own property, at our own home, in our own comfort zone,” she said. “Now any time I open up the back door, I am reminded of that horrible day. Not only was Michael’s life taken that day, but my life was also taken, as well.”

She said her health significantly has declined since the shooting, and she suffers daily from physical and emotional pain.

“Michael was walking away and was no threat to Dustin,” LaPerriere said. “Dustin was specifically told not to come to the property. He was a felon in possession of a firearm and was trespassing. He shot Michael in the back. I felt that the district attorney did not do her job because this case should have been taken to trial. There is more than enough evidence to do so instead of making a plea deal. I am standing here in disbelief knowing that a human life is only worth two to six years. … He was walking away from him. How can a man walking away, being shot in the back, how is that a threat to Dustin or anyone else? He didn’t even see what was coming on his own property.”

According to an arrest affidavit from the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, Adams, 50, also known as “Pitt,” was found deceased on the ground outside of a residence located at 2294 County Road 67 with a single gunshot wound in the back. The bullet traveled at a downward angle, with the bullet exiting the front of his chest.

Katariina Gibson, a witness to the shooting, told authorities that she, Dixon and several others had gone to the home on County Road 67 to clean a fifth-wheel camper trailer. While doing so, she said Adams and Monahan came into the trailer, both alleged to have guns. She told authorities that they fired several bullets into the floor of the trailer toward Dixon’s feet, according to the affidavit.

“Katariina is told by Frankie (Monahan) that they are going to kill her and she can’t leave,” the affidavit states.

Adams and Monahan told Gibson to get out of the trailer, and as she began to leave, she felt what she believed to be a gun pressed against her head and was hit by the gun. She told authorities that she heard Adams say that he was going to kill Dixon with his “bare hands.”

She said she heard Dixon yell, “Babe,” and then she heard a gunshot. She saw Adams react to being shot but did not see him fall to the ground.

When she went into the main residence on the property, she said she heard about five gunshots from the area where Monahan was standing. She soon after was forced to leave with Monahan, she told authorities. Because she felt like she was not free to leave or say no, Gibson complied with Monahan’s orders and got into a truck with him.

Monahan drove to Colorado Springs, allegedly with a pistol under his thigh, and later dropped Gibson off at a Walmart on Razorback Road.

During an interview with detectives, Dixon said he saw Adams and Monahan approach the fifth wheel and saw that they were armed. He said the men entered the trailer and pointed guns at him.

Adams allegedly made comments to him such as, “You thought we had quashed our beef, but I got you now.”

“Dustin stated both Michael and Francis fired bullets into the floor of the trailer near his feet,” the affidavit states.

When Dixon later looked out the window and saw Monahan allegedly holding a gun in Gibson’s direction, he fired one to two warning shots out of the trailer and away from Adams, Monahan and Gibson. He said the men started to fire back at him, and he fired his gun one more time and hit Adams, who fell to the ground.

Dixon told authorities that the tension between him and Adams began in 2018 over a dog issue when Dixon’s girlfriend at the time took a dog belonging to a mutual friend. He said Adams believed that Dixon had put their friend in the hospital, ruined his relationship with her, and ruined his life.

He said he borrowed the gun that he used that day because he was afraid of Adams. According to the affidavit, Dixon’s mother made a report to law enforcement in 2018 because of “Dustin being afraid of Michael because of the situation with the dog.”

On Monday, Monahan pleaded not guilty to all of his charges related to the case.

Dixon previously was convicted of second-degree assault, and Monahan was convicted of attempted robbery; neither was allowed to possess a firearm.

Dixon’s sentencing was set for April 14 and Monahan is set for trial July 17-21.

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