Celeste Dixon was originally a weak supporter of the death penalty. She lost her mom, Marguerite, to murder in Texas. What kept her going after her mom’s death was the promise of a trial and that they were seeking the death penalty.
Celeste attended the trial every day because she wanted the defendant to see the people left behind and their anger and rage. After the guilty verdict and the death sentence, her family was relieved. A juror told them he’d held out for death because it was “a comforting thing to do” for the family.
Over time, Celeste began to question the death penalty because of the impact of the prolonged anger it created in her. She became active in a prolife group while in college. She eventually realized that she could no longer support the death penalty. Celeste noted that once she began to oppose the death penalty, the DA in her mom’s case was less responsive to her.
Her mom’s murderer was executed 21 years after the crime. Despite the juror’s belief that execution would be comforting, Celeste did not experience it that way. The death penalty process ultimately did not help her with the tremendous loss she had suffered.
Her experience led her to conclude that capital punishment actually fails to help murder victim family members rebuild their lives. Ms. Dixon shared her journey with attendees at the Coalition’s recent Abolition Conference in McPherson.