DA Vance: James Dixon Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter for 2013 Death of Islan Nettles

April 4, 2016

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of JAMES DIXON, 25, for punching Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old transgender female, in the head repeatedly in August 2013. The victim died from her injuries several days later. The defendant pleaded guilty to the top count of the New York State Supreme Court indictment against him, Manslaughter in the First Degree. He is expected to be sentenced on April 19, 2016. 

“With this conviction, James Dixon has finally been brought to justice for this brutal and lethal assault,” said District Attorney Vance. “Members of the transgender community are far too often the targets of violent crime. I hope that this conviction provides some comfort to Ms. Nettles’ family and friends, and affirms my Office’s commitment to protecting members of the LGBTQ community.”

As admitted in the defendant’s guilty plea and according to court documents and statements made on the record in court, shortly after midnight on August 17, 2013, three transgender women encountered a group of at least seven young men on Eighth Avenue in Harlem. As both groups walked south along Eighth Avenue, one of the young men, DIXON, struck Ms. Nettles in the face with a closed fist between West 147th and 148th Streets, knocking her to the ground. The back of her head hit the pavement, leaving the victim unconscious. DIXON then repeatedly struck the victim with a closed fist, causing serious brain injury, before fleeing the scene. As a result of her injuries, Ms. Nettles was declared brain-dead on August 20th and taken off life support two days later.

Assistant District Attorneys Nick Viorst and Laura Millendorf handled the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Alfred Peterson, Chief of Trial Bureau 70, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, Special Counsel to the District Attorney, and Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Katie Doran, Special Advisor to the District Attorney for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues; and Assistant District Attorney Jeanne Olivo, Chief of the Hate Crimes Unit, also assisted with the case.

District Attorney Vance thanked the NYPD’s Police Service Area 6, Manhattan North Homicide Squad, and in particular, the 32nd Precinct Detective Squad for their assistance with the investigation.

Defendant Information:

JAMES DIXON, D.O.B. 9/22/1990
Brooklyn, NY


  • Manslaughter in the First Degree, a class B felony, 1 count