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156746 - People v Dawn Marie Dixon-Bey

The People of the State of Michigan,

 

Jerrold Schrotenboer

 

Plaintiff-Appellant,

 

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(Jackson – McBain, J.)

 

Dawn Marie Dixon-Bey,

 

Gary Strauss

 

Defendant-Appellee.

 

Summary

Defendant fatally stabbed Gregory Stack, her longtime boyfriend, in the heart. After first giving the police a false story about who stabbed the victim, defendant admitted she had done it, but claimed to have acted in self-defense. She was charged with first-degree murder. A jury convicted her of the lesser offense of second-degree murder. The trial judge sentenced defendant to serve a prison term of 35 to 70 years, a 15-year departure from the sentencing guidelines range, primarily because of his finding that defendant “brutally murdered [Stack] in cold blood.” In a split published opinion, the Court of Appeals majority held that the trial court’s departure sentence was not reasonably proportionate to the offense and the offender; it vacated her sentence and remanded for resentencing. The dissenting judge found no abuse of discretion by the trial court. The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on the prosecutor’s application for leave to appeal to address: (1) to what extent the sentencing guidelines should be considered to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion in applying the principle of proportionality under People v Steanhouse, 500 Mich 453 (2017); and (2) whether, when a jury convicted the defendant of second-degree murder, the trial court abused its discretion in applying the principle of proportionality if it either (a) sentenced the defendant according to an independent finding that she committed first-degree murder; or (b) departed upward from the sentencing guidelines for second-degree murder based on facts established by a preponderance of the evidence that the jury did not find were established beyond a reasonable doubt. See MCL 777.36(2)(a); People v Ewing (After Remand), 435 Mich 443 (1990); People v Milbourn, 435 Mich 630, 654 (1990). The case will be considered together with People v Beck, Docket No. 152934.​