State expert witnesses testify in Fox Lake homicide case

March 8, 2019

JUNEAU — A State Crime Laboratory expert testified on Thursday during the first-degree homicide trial against Laverne Ware Jr. about how he determined that a pink handgun was used to kill Sesalie Dixon in December 2016.

Xai Xiong is a firearms examiner at the crime lab and said that he did his report on the weapon and ammunition on Jan. 19, 2017.

“In my opinion the shots were fired out of the pink semi-automatic pistol,” Xiong said.

Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg asked how he knew the shots weren’t made from a black pistol that was also found in the home at 100 We Go Trail in Fox Lake, where Dixon’s body was found in the garage. Besides color, the two guns are the same make and model.

When the firearms are manufactured there are microscopic differences for each firearm, Xiong testified. These differences show differently on the bullets that fired from the guns, he said.

Ware, 38, of Fox Lake, is accused of fatally shooting Dixon, 27, his girlfriend and first cousin. A Jefferson County jury is hearing the case that also includes charges of hiding a corpse, incest and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The trial is expected to continue through March 15.

P. Douglas Kelley, formerly from the Fond du Lac County Medical Examiner’s Office, finished his testimony about the autopsy performed on Dixon as the first witness on Thursday.

Defense attorney Anjali Sharma asked about the proximity of the pink-handled gun to Dixon at the time of her death.

Kelley said the gun was at an intermediate range from Dixon when it was fired. Traditionally that would have been between a foot and 2 feet away from the victim. However with modern gun powder it could mean the gun was at 3½ feet away, Kelley said.

Kelley was also asked about what factors played into rigor mortis.

“After a person dies initially all the muscles become flaccid,” Kelley said. “Over time the muscles start to freeze and become rigid. That is because of the leftover energy molecules in the tissue.”

Under ideal situations, rigor mortis will be at its maximum 24 hours after death, Kelley said. It will subside after 36 hours, he said.

Dixon, was officially pronounced dead at 12:20 a.m. on Dec. 5, 2016. Her body was found in a truck the the garage at the Fox Lake home on the afternoon of Dec. 4. Ware owned the house and his mother, Marjorie Jones, lived there.

Kelley examined Dixon’s body nine hours after she was pronounced dead. At that point, Kelley said that rigor mortis was starting to give way.

Klomberg asked if temperatures such as cold could extend rigor mortis.

“It’s a possibility under the circumstances,” Kelley said. “It would be equivalent to a cooler in a garage in Wisconsin in December.”

Vanessa Styx, from the State Crime Lab, also testified. She said she found hand prints matching Ware Jr. the hood of his truck, but she did not find any identifiable prints on the guns.

Family members of Ware, including his cousin Dominic Martin of Milwaukee, testified as well. Martin was the foster parent for Dixon during her teen years. However he was also close to Ware when he was a teen and when Ware’s younger brother died when Ware was a boy, Martin said on the stand.

Martin had gone to the 100 We Go Trail address on Dec. 3, 2016, for the funeral of his uncle. He said he remembered Dixon was alive when he left to return to Milwaukee.

Martin said Jones was acting differently on that day. She had taken pills before the funeral and fell asleep and was quieter than she normally would have been, he said.

Jones, 66, was found guilty in January 2018 for her role in obstructing officers and hiding the gun that killed Dixon. She was sentenced last March to six years in prison.