A man who was accused of fatally shooting two people in a fight over a girl in 2021 was found guilty of one count of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder.
James Pagán, now 30, shot and killed 18-year-old Barbarajean Lombardi and 21-year-old Tommy Dixon on Sept. 16, 2021, in St. Petersburg. Pagán was convicted of first-degree murder in Dixon’s death and second-degree murder in Lombardi’s death.
Pagán and Lombardi were friends who had hooked up, but Lombardi told him she didn’t want to be in a relationship, Pagán said during his testimony.
Pagán went over to Lombardi’s house late at night after he suspected she was seeing other guys, according to court testimony. An argument broke out when he found Dixon in Lombardi’s room, and authorities say Pagán shot and killed both Dixon and Lombardi.
After the shooting, Pagán cut off an ankle monitor he had been ordered to wear and went to Alachua County, where he was arrested. Pagán was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
In court testimony, Pagán said Dixon had started beating him up and he was acting in self-defense. He said he didn’t know that Lombardi had been shot and he was surprised to find out that she had been killed. But prosecutors argued that Pagán had gone over to Lombardi’s house looking to start trouble.
During testimony Thursday, Pagán said he used to let Lombardi drive his car to work, riding along with her, as she only had her permit at the time and needed practice for her driver’s license. They were friends and had hooked up, but Lombardi told him she wanted space.
On the day of the shooting, Pagán gave Lombardi a ride from her job at Panera Bread. They stopped at Walmart before heading to her house at 1738 Granville Court S. When they got to the house, Lombardi realized one of her guy friends was there, and rushed Pagán out of the house, according to testimony from his cross-examination.
Later that night, around 11 p.m., Pagán went over to Lombardi’s house to see if she was with the guy friend who had been at the house earlier, he admitted during cross-examination. Pagán knocked on the door, letting himself into the house when no one answered.
When he entered Lombardi’s bedroom, he found her with Dixon, not the friend who had been at the house earlier. Pagán confronted them and asked where Dixon’s car was, as Pagán hadn’t seen it when he came into the house, according to court testimony.
Shortly after, Pagán said, Dixon lunged at him and hit him three or four times.
“I was scared, I didn’t know what his intentions were,” Pagán testified. “I just started firing, just to get him off of me.”
Pagán said Lombardi ran out of the room, and he kept firing the gun until Dixon stopped hitting him. When he saw Dixon fall, Pagán said he panicked and ran out of the house. He said he did not see Lombardi as he left the house.
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Prosecutors argued that Pagán had gone over to Lombardi’s house seeking trouble and that he had told his roommates he suspected Lombardi was seeing someone else, and he wanted to go over and start something.
“This case boils down to ‘If I can’t have the girl, no one is going to have her,’” Executive Assistant State Attorney Christie Ellis said during closing arguments.
“This isn’t a whodunnit. We know who,” Ellis later added.
Public defenders representing Pagán said his actions were not premeditated, and that he should be convicted of a lesser charge.
“He did not go in there intending to harm anybody and the tragic nature of what unfolded within that room led to the terrible deaths of two people,” Assistant Public Defender Julia Seifer-Smith said during closing arguments. “But it’s not first-degree homicide. It’s not second. It’s a manslaughter.”
In a joint statement, Ellis and Assistant State Attorney Amber Sherwood said they were grateful for the jury’s verdicts.
“We’d just like to say we are thankful we were able to get the victims families closure and justice,” they said via text message.
Commenting on behalf of the public defender’s office, Chief Assistant Public Defender Greg Williams described the deaths as a tragedy.
“It’s just a tragic scenario that impacted three different families,” he told the Tampa Bay Times in a phone interview.
In a statement to the Times, Lombardi’s family said they were grateful for those who helped secure a guilty verdict for their loved one, though they said they still carried a sense of grief for Lombardi, who they affectionately nicknamed “Sissy.”
“Today, our family is thankful to the judge, jury, and state prosecutors, with special thanks to Amber Sherwood, for the justice they’ve agreed upon on behalf of Barbarajean and Tommy,” the statement said. “Nothing can change the suffering our families have endured over the last 18 months, or the healing that will be required for the rest of our lives. Though in the words our sissy, We Will Keep Our Hope, Our Faith, and Our Purpose.”
Dixon’s father, 44-year-old Tommie Dixon, said he had mixed feelings about a sense of closure after the verdict. Dixon’s stepmother, 42-year-old Ebony Dixon, said the verdict brought a sense of justice, but could not bring back their son.
“Our house, our family as a whole, it will never be the same,” she said. “The only thing we have now left of him is some of his belongings.”
Pagán is set for sentencing in May, where he will face a mandatory life sentence for the first-degree murder charge and could face up to a second life sentence for the second-degree murder charge.