July 4, 1996 in City
Two Found Guilty In Woman’s Death Former Couple Had Blamed Each Other In Robbery Scheme That ‘Went Too Far’
Koralee Dixon had two killers, a Spokane County jury decided Wednesday.
Marcella Taylor and Willie Richardson were found guilty of first-degree murder after less than four hours of deliberations.
The former couple blamed each other for Dixon’s killing throughout the week-long Superior Court trial. Richardson said Taylor applied the duct tape to the victim’s mouth that caused her to choke on a bandanna, while the petite Taylor insisted she is physically unable to hold a victim captive and dump her body in a lake alone.
The jury bought neither story, siding instead with Deputy Prosecutor Dannette Allen, who said the defendants hatched a robbery scheme that “went too far.”
Allen said the couple decided to rob Dixon, 23, after she returned from a two-week stay in Reno, Nev., with more than $1,000 in cash and some jewelry. They went into Dixon’s room last June 16, stuffed a blue bandanna in her mouth and taped her eyes, mouth, hands and feet.
They left while Dixon gagged and choked on the cotton cloth, Allen said.
“Death would have been within three to five minutes,” Allen said in her closing arguments Tuesday. “And it was not a nice way to die.”
Dixon’s relatives and friends cried as the verdicts were read by Judge Robert Austin, who cut them off when a few started to applaud.
“No, no,” he said sharply, banging his gavel. The group fell silent and clutched hands. Richardson and Taylor did not look at them.
Under sentencing guidelines, both face a 20- to 30-year prison term. A sentencing date has not been set.
Richardson, 19, said he didn’t apply the duct tape to Dixon’s face the way it was when her decomposed body was found weeks later. After the robbery, he said he left and returned to the North Side apartment later to find Taylor already there.
Dixon’s body was wrapped in a bedsheet and Taylor said she was dead, Richardson said.
He helped Taylor, 23, put the body in a wicker hamper, carried it to Dixon’s car and drove with Taylor to a lake near Tum Tum, where they dumped it into the water.
Taylor’s attorney, John Rodgers, blamed the murder on Richardson, saying his client wasn’t big enough to commit such a physical act.
Dixon’s mother, Linda Jacobson, said she was relieved the jury saw through the couple’s lies and coverups and found them both equally to blame.
“We worried they would get confused by it all and let one off,” Jacobson said after the verdict. Sherry Williams, who said Dixon was her best friend, said the verdicts mean she can start healing.
“This whole thing, it’s been like an open wound,” Williams said. “I miss her so much.”