The man accused of fatally beating a transgender woman in Harlem balked at a plea deal Thursday and is now set to try his luck before a jury.
Judge Robert Stolz offered James Dixon 12 years behind bars in exchange for pleading guilty in the chilling Aug. 17, 2013 attack on Islan Nettles.
Dixon, 25, faces a range of 5 to 25 years behind bars if convicted at trial in the manslaughter case.
He “would like to exercise his right to go to trial,” Dixon’s attorney Norman Williams said.
Prosecutors wanted 17 years in exchange for pleading guilty but Stolz undercut them, he said, in light of Dixon’s lack of a criminal history and his age.
Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Viorst and Stolz remarked on how strong the case against Dixon is.
“There will be confessions the defendant made to four different civilians before turning himself in and a written confession he made to a detective after he turned himself in,” Viorst said.
“There will be a lengthy, detailed, videotaped confession he made to me after that.”
Medical experts will also testify about the horrific injuries that killed Nettles, the prosecutor said.
Nettles’s head struck the pavement when Dixon allegedly knocked her out after he and his pals catcalled the victim.
The ADA said that while the killing was not charged as a hate crime, the incident would not have occurred had the victim not been a transgender person.
There’s “clear overlay of animus toward the transgender status of the victim,” Viorst argued.
Nettles was savagely beaten even after she lay on the ground unconscious, prosecutors said.
The judge offered Williams more time to discuss the plea opportunity with Dixon should he choose to accept 12 years.
“It sounds from what Mr. Viorst … said that the people have substantial proof of your client’s guilt,” Stolz said.
A trial date was set for March 30.