Woman on trial for the death boyfriend's daughter claimed to have loving relationship with child

A Bellingham woman on trial for the death of her boyfriend’s 3-year-old daughter told the court she and the child shared a loving relationship. Kamee Dixon took the stand for the second day– sharing memories of what she claimed were happy times with Hazel Homan.

The 3-year-old is the daughter of Brandon Homan, Dixon’s boyfriend. Homan gave testimony Tuesday and Wednesday.

During Thursday’s trial, Dixon walked the court through a series of videos and pictures of her and Hazel. She talked about how Hazel loved getting "dolled up" with her in a "pretty dress." Dixon also testified how she was raising Hazel right along with her own son.

"This is a picture of me and both the kids. We went to Trampoline Zone and we were really hot from jumping around so much. And there’s this hurricane machine—it blows air on you to cool you down. That’s what this picture is," said Dixon.

Dixon described a time when Hazel fell down a staircase in 2019. The defendant claimed her son and Hazel were playing at the top of the staircase at an apartment complex. Dixon said Hazel tumbled down the stairs and had a shocked, confused reaction rather than screaming from pain. Dixon said she notified Homan of the fall, as well as other communications about Hazel’s health.

Her defense attorney asked, "If something were to happen—if Hazel were to get sick or be injured, what would you do about that one? Would you tell anybody?" Dixon responded, saying, "Yes, Brandon and I had regular communication. Anytime anything was going on with Hazel while she was in my care, Brandon and I would be communicating about it, whether that was being sick or if she had an accident or fell down."

Detectives said Hazel suffered a brain injury consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome in November 2019. Dixon was charged with homicide by abuse and second-degree murder. Detectives said Dixon had primary care of Hazel while Homan went to work. Court documents stated before the brain injury that took her life, Hazel suffered other injuries. This included bruises all over her body, neck and groin, and several broken bones revealed by x-rays from a medical examiner’s office.

The court also heard statements virtually on Zoom from Dr. Evan Matshes, an anatomic pathologist and forensic pathologist based in California. He was called upon by the defense to give testimony. Matshes said he traveled to Seattle to analyze Hazel’s bones, reviewed her autopsy report and more than 4,500 pages of documents. 

Matshes said he requested assistance from Heartland Assays to test for Vitamin D levels in the child’s blood samples. The pathologist said results from Heartland Assays found Hazel had extremely low Vitamin D levels. When the defense asked Matshes why he believed Hazel had a Vitamin D deficiency, he said, "The appearance of her bones at the naked eye, the appearance of her bones under the microscope and the Vitamin D level that was reported to me by Heartland Assays."  

Matshes explained this deficiency can cause bones to become weak and fragile. During cross-examination, prosecutors argued the Vitamin D specimen that was tested could have been compromised if it weren’t preserved and stored properly. Matshes confirmed this could cause the specimen to degrade over time. 

The pathologist also told the court that King County Medical Examiner’s Office treated the child’s bones with a light acid, a standard practice in similar investigations. Prosecutors questioned if the light acid could have been a factor in her bones appearing thin. Prosecutors also mentioned Hazel was not previously diagnosed with a metabolic bone disease, though Matshes said he could not rule out a metabolic disease in this case.

Prosecutors accused Dixon of abusing Hazel, causing a deadly brain injury consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The defense said Hazel’s death is not the result of abuse, but rather an accident from choking on food and the lack of oxygen caused her brain injuries.

Judge David Freeman dismissed the jury for the weekend. The trial is scheduled to resume Monday morning.