2013-04-18 / Front Page

Hixon Convicted In Toddler Assault

Girl’s mother testifies against Union Township man
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
NEWS EDITOR


Lance Hixon Lance Hixon Bail was revoked last week sending a Union Township man to the Franklin County Prison where he awaits sentencing for the assault and neglect of his former girlfriend’s 27-month-old daughter.

Convicted of one count each of aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child and simple assault by a jury of his peers, Lance Alan Hixon is slated to remain incarcerated pending the completion of a home study and removal of firearms from his home by the Probation Department. In the event those conditions are successfully met, the 33-year-old will remain under electronic monitoring in his 1889 Lehman Road, Warfordsburg home until sentencing on May 7.

Hixon was one of three individuals, including his grandmother and a county probation officer, to take the stand for the defense during the April 11-12 trial overseen by Fulton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carol L. Van Horn. Hixon, a father of four, told the court he first met Joscelyn Murray and her two children in the spring of 2011 at a laundramat in Hancock, Md., after the two had conversed over Facebook. By late June, Murray reportedly began staying at Hixon’s home several nights a week. Eventually her son and daughter, the victim in this case, would join her at the residence.

Hixon outlined for the court the physical condition of the little girl the days prior to being transported to the emergency room of Fulton County Medical Center on November 4, 2011. From bruising under one eye to a knot in the middle of her forehead, Hixon said his girlfriend told him the injuries were sustained at the hands of the child’s older brother and by falling off a back step at a family member’s house.

On the night of November 3, Hixon admitted to squeezing an infected area on the back of the girl’s leg that resembled a spider bite. He also said the same night he held the girl in the bathtub to help remove scabbing under her eyes. The following morning, Hixon told the court the girl’s eyes were swollen, but she could still see. He also said she was “coherent, talking and acting normal.” However, he did testify he instructed his girlfriend to take the girl for medical attention for her eyes. He added he asked his next-door neighbor, grandmother Betty Jane Hixon, to monitor the situation.

He denied having anything to do with the girl’s injuries. Under questioning by defense attorney Matt Zatko, he said he never slapped, punched, kicked, whipped her with a belt or pulled hair from her head. Through cross examination by Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall, Hixon stated he didn’t remember telling an intake caseworker from Fulton County Services for Children that he physically held the girl in the bathtub and further refuted telling the caseworker he hit, struck or kicked the girl.

Hixon pointed out he only held the child down enough to splash water in her eyes and to keep her head from hitting the bottom of the tub. He also denied telling the caseworker the entire incident involving the tub lasted between three and four hours.

Currently serving a 20- to 84- month sentence in a Department of Corrections’ boot camp for her involvement, Murray testified against Hixon, getting highlyemotional and sobbing when asked to describe how her daughter suffered “serious bodily injury.” Murray admitted she lied to Pennsylvania State Police investigator Trooper Michael Davis, as well as to hospital officials and Services for Children at the onset of the investigation. She said her daughter did not hit her head off the toilet causing her eyes to swell, as she initially reported.

“I lied for him,” said Murray, who noted that Hixon “put his hands on her daughter, hit her in the face, carried her around by the neck and back of the head and struck her with a belt” the evening of November 3, 2011. She went on to testify that peroxide was also dumped in her daughter’s eyes.

“I watched him hurt her ... I watched her scream,” Murray said.

Murray stated she was scared of what Hixon would do if she told the truth and added she “was not emotionally strong enough” to protect the girl. Unfortunately, the toddler was not transported to the local hospital until after lunchtime the following day. Attending to the girl at Fulton County Medical Center was emergency room physician Dr. Gerald Celestine, who testified the girl looked “significantly traumatized,” had reddish-blue bruises on her face and her eyes were essentially shut.

“I thought to myself, ‘What happened to this child?,’” Dr. Celestine recalled. “Did someone beat ... her?”

Within three hours of her arrival, the victim was taken by ambulance to Hershey Medical Center. Hershey pediatrician Dr. Laura Duda said she had suspicions the girl had been abused and admitted there were so many injuries it was hard to describe them all. Due to the overlapping nature of the bruising, hospital staff gave up counting the bruises after reaching 24. Dr. Duda said the girl’s eyes were bruised and swollen shut much like a boxer’s and could only be opened under anesthesia for examination. The doctor also spoke about bruising to the forehead, cheeks, mouth, neck, clavicle, sternum, chest, buttocks and thighs. Some marks had a loop-shaped bruising effect indicating the girl had been struck with an object moving at a highvelocity while others were fistshaped, Dr. Duda stated.

As they had concerns that the trauma was “inflicted,” the doctor said the information was shared with Services for Children.

“Some were new and some older,” the doctor said of the bruises. “ ... It appears she was beaten on multiple occasions ... It’s very hard to date the injuries, and I can’t say who did it. That’s law enforcement’s job.”

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