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John Dixon

Other New Jersey Exonerations
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On December 23, 1990, a 21-year-old woman was walking on the street in Irvington, New Jersey, when a man began following her. He grabbed her coat sleeve and pulled her into an alley where he threatened her with a .38-caliber pistol.

He then dragged her through a number of back yards before he sexually assaulted her vaginally and orally. The victim told police that throughout the attack, she looked at the attacker's face, which was marked by numerous sores.

After the attack, the man took $60 and told the woman to not move for 10 minutes. He then fled.

The woman went to a nearby home and asked for help. Police were called and she was taken to a hospital where a rape kit was collected.

Three days later, the victim was shown a photo array and she picked out the photograph of 21-year-old John Dixon. On January 4, 1991, the victim was shown another photo array and again positively identified Dixon as her attacker. Dixon was arrested on January 18, 1991.

On July 17, 1991, Dixon pled guilty in Essex County Superior Court to first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, and unlawful possession of a weapon in the third degree. He subsequently asked the judge to withdraw his plea and obtain DNA testing. Dixon said he pled guilty because of he was afraid of obtaining a harsh sentence if he went to trial and was convicted by jury

After the prosecution claimed that they doubted DNA testing would be relevant, the court denied Dixon's motion. DNA testing was not commonly used in New Jersey at the time. Dixon was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Dixon's appeals were unsuccessful.

In 1995, he contacted the Innocence Project. In 1996, a student assigned to his case located the physical evidence, which was being held at the Irvington Police Department.

DNA tests on the rape kit samples were eventually begun by the New Jersey State Police Laboratory and completed in 2001.

The tests excluded Dixon as the source of spermatozoa collected from the victim.

On November 28, 2001, Dixon was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and the conviction was dismissed. He was released after serving 10 years in prison.

Dixon sought compensation from the state of New Jersey and in 2005, he was awarded $183,342.50 plus $91,657.50 in attorney's fees.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 8/1/2018
State:New Jersey
County:Essex
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:Robbery, Kidnapping
Reported Crime Date:1990
Convicted:1991
Exonerated:2001
Sentence:45 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:27
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes