NILES — She didn't participate in the robbery or shoot a gun at a Niles Township home Aug. 9, but South Bend resident Danielle Dixon did drive the getaway car and for that she received a 20-month prison sentence.
Dixon, 22, of South Bend Avenue in South Bend, was sentenced today in Berrien County Trial Court after pleading guilty to a charge of unarmed robbery. Judge Scott Schofield sentenced Dixon to 20 months in prison with credit for 67 days already served.
She may serve her prison time in boot camp. She was also ordered to pay $198 in fines and costs.
Two co-defendants, Deandre Levince Miller and Joshua James Haliotis, were sentenced to prison last week for assault with intent to rob while armed. Miller received a 10-year prison term, Haliotis a six-year prison term.
According to police reports, Dixon drove Miller and Haliotis to the home to steal marijuana. Shots were fired through the front door of the residence right after a man had entered and was visible through the door.
Assistant Prosecutor Cara Wilkinson said that while Dixon had the least involvement in the incident, she drove the others to the home with the knowledge that they had a gun and planned to rob it. "But for her actions, they may not have been able to get up here," she said. "She provided the means for them to do that."
Wilkinson said that while Dixon cooperated with the investigation, she needs to take responsibility for her part in the incident.
Defense attorney McKinley Elliott urged Schofield to deviate downward from the guidelines and said that sending her to prison would "extend the tragedy".
"This has been a fall from grace of almost Biblical proportions," he said. "We ultimately want a sentence that is fair and just and something that allows her to have another chance to get her life back on track."
Dixon apologized for her part in the incident. "I was not raised this way, I showed a terrible lack of judgment," she said. "I want the chance to put my life back together."
Schofield said that while Dixon had a spotless record before the incident, she committed a very serious felony "right out of the box." "You were the getaway driver," he said. "We're all just lucky no one was killed which could have very easily have happened. There has to be some serious punishment for a serious crime."
Schofield told Dixon that she can still make something of her life after she gets out of prison and spoke of how God used Moses, David and Paul after they had all been a party to murder.
In another incident, an 11-year Shelton's Farm Market employee was sentenced for embezzlement and could soon be deported back to Mexico.
Delfino Morales Matamoros, 34, pleaded guilty to embezzlement over $1,000 and under $20,000 over a year and a half period from 2010 to July 25, 2011. He is believed to have taken more than $29,000 worth of meat and cheese from the market over that time period. He was sentenced to five years probation, 90 days in jail, 180 days tether, 500 hours of community service and $31,596 in restitution, fines and costs. He was given credit for 76 days already served.
Wilkinson said after the sentencing that despite all the terms of the five-year probation sentence, Matamoros is expected to be deported back to Mexico in the next several weeks.
Matamoros apologized for his actions and acknowledged that he had betrayed the trust of his employers. In recent years, he had also been running a restaurant in South Bend while he worked at Shelton's.
"This was a breach of trust and betrayal in a very major way," Schofield said. "You systematically stole from your employer. You had a job and squandered that at a time when people are standing in line to get one. It's dishonesty on a very large scale."