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Sept. 25, 2020

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Battle Ground man found insane in attack on own family

Judge deems Dixon a danger to community, commits him to Western State Hospital

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter

A 22-year-old Battle Ground man was acquitted of attempted murder and assault charges Thursday after a judge found he was legally insane at the time of the alleged crimes.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Daniel Stahnke said Colin Dixon still poses a threat to the community, and he committed him to Western State Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Lakewood. The amount of time Dixon will stay at the hospital wasn’t specified; the judge said Dixon will need to undergo further evaluation and treatment.

Stahnke also agreed to dismiss several no-contact orders that prevented Dixon from communicating with his family, whom he assaulted with a knife while suffering a mental defect, according to testimony at Thursday’s hearing.

“That’s my son, and he’ll always be my son,” said Dixon’s father, Christian Dixon, who choked up while addressing the judge. “I need to be able to be there to support him.”

Colin Dixon was arrested Jan. 17, 2018, at his family’s Battle Ground home. Officers responded to a call about a stabbing at 12:47 a.m. in the 1200 block of North Parkway Avenue, according to the city of Battle Ground. A family member, who police said was a minor, told officers her brother stabbed her father.

The officers entered the home and found Christian Dixon suffering from stab wounds.

Colin Dixon attacked his father, who was sleeping on a couch, with a knife. Christian Dixon was severely cut on his neck and had to undergo emergency surgery, prosecutors said. Colin Dixon’s mother and sister intervened. Both were attacked with the same knife and suffered deep cuts, a prosecutor said during a hearing in January 2018.

The court ordered that Colin Dixon undergo a competency evaluation later that month.

The initial evaluation found Dixon to be incompetent, and he underwent treatment until he was found mentally fit to understand the court process. In November, he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. However, Dixon was found to have “decompensated” within a month — his mental health deteriorated while housed at the Clark County Jail, and he was no longer able to be of much help in his defense. He again underwent treatment until March, but this time, the court subsequently ordered a sanity evaluation, court records say.

Dr. Judith Kirkeby at Western State Hospital interviewed Dixon twice and concluded he was suffering from a mental disease or defect when he attacked his family, and was either unable to understand his actions or tell right from wrong.

Another doctor who evaluated Dixon at the prosecution’s request reached a similar conclusion, Deputy Prosecutor Luka Vitasovic said.

The findings prompted defense attorney Heather Carroll to file a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds of insanity.

Kirkeby said during Thursday’s hearing she interviewed Dixon for about five hours and reviewed police reports, 911 audio recordings, and medical and school records, among other materials, to reach her conclusion.

“I did not have any question about him trying to misrepresent himself,” Kirkeby told the judge.

When Dixon was arrested, he underwent a video-recorded interview with detectives. He talked about being in an “escape room,” which he was in “because of my dream,” the motion to acquit states.

“He’s not taking in reality based on information from the environment,” Kirkeby said. “He saw his father (during the attack) but not really.”

The symptoms Dixon was experiencing fall under a broad category of psychosis in both medicine and the state’s legal standard for insanity, the doctor said.

Dixon smoked marijuana on the night of the assault and had been consuming marijuana with high levels of THC, known as dabs, in the months leading up to the attack. Kirkeby said it is possible Dixon’s mental defect could be attributed to the drug use, but it should not be considered a major contributing factor.

Vitasovic did not dispute the findings. He said if the judge granted the motion to acquit, then Dixon should be committed to a psychiatric hospital.

“Let’s get you the help you need, because you’re a danger to everyone around you until you get treatment,” Stahnke told Dixon after reaching his decision.