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Mother seeks justice for slain son

Angela Pearson pauses as she sifts through photos of her only child, Levi Dixon Jr., who was killed nearly two years ago. 

EDWARD LINSMIER | Times

Angela Pearson pauses as she sifts through photos of her only child, Levi Dixon Jr., who was killed nearly two years ago. 

TAMPA — Nearly two years ago, someone killed Angela Pearson's teenage son.

No one has been arrested. And no one connected to the West Tampa home where 17-year-old Levi Dixon Jr. died has ever said "sorry," Pearson said.

"Somebody," she said Friday, "needs to be accountable for the death of my son."

With police continuing to investigate the unsolved case, Pearson decided to take action of her own. She has sued the couple who own that house, folks she knew from church but who she says turned a blind eye to the criminal activity that occurred on their property before someone shot her only child.

Dixon, a Blake High School student, had gone to 2536 W Walnut St. to hang out with friends, his mother said. At some point, the friends left. Dixon was alone when an intruder kicked open the front door about 4 a.m. and shot him in the neck.

Police said then that Dixon, a gospel and R&B singer who wrote his own music, may have been mistaken for someone else.

"My son wasn't no angel," Pearson said of Dixon, who picked up a felony battery charge five months before he died. But "he wasn't no bad kid."

Property records list Barbara Barton and Carlton Barton Sr. as the owners of the $64,318 home. Prison records show that Carlton Barton Sr. was incarcerated on cocaine charges at the time of the shooting.

Barbara Barton had moved out of the home, according to Pearson's lawyer, Chad Pilon.

But the lawyer and his client say the Bartons' absence didn't absolve them of their duty to keep the property safe. The wrongful death lawsuit accuses them among other things of failing to supervise the people who lived in the home, namely, their adult sons.

Carldon D. Barton, Carldre D. Barton and Carlton Barton Jr. have all served prison time for cocaine charges, state records show. They were 19, 20 and 22 respectively at the time of the incident.

"It's an event that could have absolutely been prevented had the owners of the home taken the first step to protect the people in their home," Pilon said. "You don't permit criminal activity to occur on your property. They didn't do anything to stall it."

Getting justice in the civil arena won't come easy. Pilon expects the Bartons' insurance company to balk at providing coverage.

He also has to find the homeowners to serve them with the suit. That won't be too hard for Carlton Barton Sr., who is in prison once again on cocaine charges. But Pilon has heard that Barbara Barton may be serving in the military in Afghanistan which, if true, could put the lawsuit on hold until she returns home.

Meantime, Pearson and police still hope someone will come forward with information about the shooting. Detectives believe there are people in the community who know details about what happened to Dixon, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

"It's very frustrating," Pearson said. "I can't get justice nowhere."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

Mother seeks justice for slain son 06/04/10 [Last modified: Saturday, June 5, 2010 12:01am]
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