Jury deliberation begins for Whatcom County woman accused of deadly child abuse

The fate of a Whatcom County woman accused of deadly child abuse is now in the hands of a jury.

Kamee Dixon was accused of killing her boyfriend’s three-year-old daughter in November 2019. The trial has gone on for nearly three months, with the prosecution saying the victim suffered repeated injury at Dixon’s hands.

The defense used its closing arguments Wednesday to reinforce its version of events—the child’s death was an accident. 

Since the start of the trial, Dixon and her defense claimed three-year-old Hazel Holman’s death is the result of her choking on a breakfast sandwich. Dixon previously testified saying she opened the child’s locked jaw with her hand, "scooped out" food and attempted to perform CPR. During closing arguments, the defense showed a video recorded by doctors inside the child’s throat. 

"If we go forward a little bit, we can see something. I don’t know what that is, but it looks a lot like scrambled egg to me," said defense attorney Doug Hyldahl while addressing the jury.

The defense contends the choking accident is what caused brain injuries that led to her death in November 2019, not abuse prosecutors are accusing Dixon of. They said one testimony that was never heard during trial was from an investigator with the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, the department that performed Hazel’s autopsy.

"All of the experts agreed that when you’re assessing whether there’s been some sort of inflicted trauma—abusive head trauma, child abuse—whatever label is put on it, that an investigation is important. You didn’t hear from [the investigator] and the reason you didn’t hear from him is that no investigation was done. He didn’t go to the scene, he didn’t talk to any witnesses, not to Kamee, not to Brandon. No investigation was done," said Hyldahl.

Many times, Hazel’s many injuries were mentioned in trial, like her bruises, burned hand and infected eye; injuries the prosecution claimed were at the hands of Dixon. However, the defense expert witnesses said the child had a vitamin D deficiency, making her more prone to injuries and fractures.

Hyldahl reminded the jury of testimony from Dr. Evan Matshes, a forensic pathologist who tested Hazel’s bones and blood samples. During closing arguments, Hyldahl said the doctor, "Testified that the child had under-mineralized bones. He said that his opinion was based on three things: the gross appearance of the bones under the naked eye, the appearance of the bones under the microscope and a vitamin D test. The vitamin D test, if you’ll recall, was so low… the level was so low that it was below the ability of the test to pick it up."

During a rebuttal to the defense’s closing arguments, prosecutors argued Dixon abused Hazel over the course of five months. They noted the medical examiner’s office found 50 injuries—all at various stages of healing.

"The defense would have you believe that the head trauma is just a coincidence. That multiple bruises—just a coincidence. 50 blows—just a coincidence. Multiple fractures—just a coincidence. Hand burn—just a coincidence. Serious chemical alkaline burn—just a coincidence. Bruising noticed by Hazel’s cousin—just a coincidence. Bruising noticed by the defendant's best friend—just a coincidence," said Erik Sigmar, Whatcom County Deputy Prosecutor.

Prosecution mentioned the defense paid $30,000 for their star witness to review the case, travel to Washington and testify in person. Dr. Satish Chundru, a forensic pathologist in Texas, said Hazel’s death should be ruled an accident or undetermined. However, the deputy prosecutor said the doctor’s contradictory opinions weren’t credible.

Woman accused of killing boyfriend's daughter finishes testimony that could determine her fate

Kamee Dixon was back on the witness stand to tell her side of the story about the events leading to the death of her boyfriend’s daughter. Dixon was charged with homicide by abuse and second-degree murder for the death of 3-year-old Hazel Homan.

"Dr. Chundru testified that he can’t tell if an injury is inflicted or accidental. But then he proceeded to correlate all of Hazel’s injuries to accident or trauma inflicted by EMTs or doctors. You can’t have it both ways. He ignored evidence as well. He reached for an explanation to support the defendant’s version of events. For instance, Kamee’s attempt to dislodge food by patting Hazel on the back is incompatible with bruising and substantial trauma to Hazel’s low back," said Sigmar.

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Hazel’s father, Brandon Holman, was in court during the closing arguments. Dixon is his girlfriend. The court could hear Holman crying while he viewed pictures and videos of his daughter as exhibits.

Dixon is charged with homicide by abuse and second-degree murder.