Just two weeks after he pleaded guilty to killing Black trans woman Islan Nettles, a New York City judge officially sentenced James Dixon to 12 years in prison.
On April 5, 2016, Dixon accepted a deal to serve 12 years for admitting his guilt on charges of second-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault. Yesterday’s sentencing upheld the terms of the proposed deal.
While out with friends in Harlem on August 17, 2013, Dixon, 25, hit on Nettles. After realizing she was a transgender woman, he asked if “she was a man” and punched her twice, knocking her down. Nettles, a 21-year-old who worked in fashion, died five days later from head injuries sustained from falling to the concrete.
The New York Times reports that Nettles’ mother, Delores Nettles, told the court the sentence wasn’t long enough: “He can go home after those 12 years and see his family. It’s not fair.”
New York Supreme Court Justice Daniel P. Conviser revised the district attorney’s original deal, which called for a 17-year incarceration.
“While we have a legal resolution in this one case, for many, it does not represent the real justice we are ultimately seeking. Transgender women, especially women of color, continue to be targeted each day in our city and across the country,” Beverly Tillery, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, wrote in a commentary for Advocate.com shortly after Davis pleaded guilty. “In honor of Islan Nettles and all the other transgender women who have been attacked and assaulted, and those who continue to live their lives, I hope we can have the hard conversations we need to about how to overcome the transphobia that runs so deep in our society.”