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By Casey Christie / The Californian
BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A Bakersfield woman accused in the 2010 death of her 4-year-old son was ordered to stand trial following a preliminary hearing Wednesday, but her attorney said the woman was in another room when her son fell, and the boy's death is an accident.
Alexis Dixon, 31, is next scheduled to appear in court April 30. She's being held on $2 million bail.
A judge ruled there was enough evidence to hold Dixon for trial. The burden of proof is much lower at a preliminary hearing than it is at trial.
Bakersfield police have said Dixon is responsible for Mark Allen Dixon's injuries, including head trauma. His death was ruled a homicide by the Kern County coroner's office.
Defense attorney Fred Gagliardini said Wednesday afternoon he believes doctors concluded the boy's death was a homicide in part because of a study done about a decade ago that says only a tiny fraction of children die in falls of less than five feet.
The Dixon family lived in a travel trailer where there were no surfaces higher than that.
The study focuses primarily on falls unwitnessed by uninvolved third parties and involving newborns to children 5 years old.
Gagliardini finds fault with the study, particularly in that in the years since the study, there hasn't been a substantial decline in children going into emergency rooms as a result of falls. The difference is that the number of accidental deaths attributed to falls has declined while the number of child homicides has risen, something Gagliardini attributes to child advocacy groups influencing doctors, not necessarily a true reflection of the facts.
No explanation was given Wednesday as to why the investigation took four years, Gagliardini said. A detective's testimony corroborated many details Dixon had given regarding where the boy had vomited after she found him, and how she ran water over him while trying to elicit a response from the child.
Gagliardini said Dixon has said Mark had recently started climbing on the countertop to reach an upper cabinet where she stored cookies and other snacks. He may have fallen from the counter, but Dixon didn't witness the fall and doesn't know with certainty what happened.
She found Mark on the floor and tried to get him up, but he couldn't stand, according to police reports filed in court. She walked outside holding the boy, falling as she did.
She then placed Mark against a brick wall while she called for her husband, the court filings say she told investigators. She said the boy slid down the wall and struck his head on a pole.
Mark was taken to Kern Medical Center, then flown to Children's Hospital Central California in Madera. He died the next day.