Denzil Stover, the biological grandfather of 11-year-old Connre Dixon, is surprised her foster father only got three years in prison for stabbing her to death.
Monroeville resident Paul Efaw, 60, is serving his sentence at the Hocking Correctional Facility for the Oct. 18, 2004 incident. Testimony during his trial established Dixon threatened Efaw and others with a knife, leading to the fatal confrontation.
"Somebody screwed up big time," Stover said, who testified Wednesday in a wrongful death civil lawsuit that started Tuesday.
"He should have gotten more for killing a little girl," the Willard man added. "You get more for killing a dog than killing a human being."
The Willard man also said he was surprised Efaw had been cleared from being one of the defendants in the wrongful lawsuit. Willard attorney Jim Martin, who represents Dixon's estate, has accused the Huron County Department of Job & Family Services (HCDJFS) of ignoring earlier allegations that Efaw's biological children were the victims of physical and sexual abuse.
Efaw's defense attorney, Laura Perkovic, said Martin provided no explanation for dismissing Efaw from the case before jury selection started Tuesday. She described the move as a possible "strategic reason," but Martin didn't elaborate.
HCDJFS Foster Care Coordinator Suzie Sidell returned to the stand Wednesday, this time on behalf of the agency's attorneys. She described her three interviews with Efaw and his second wife which took place in December 2003 before they became foster parents as "in depth" and said Efaw himself "was very forthcoming with information."
Sidell reviewed a psychologist's evaluation that stated Efaw "is not usually moved to anger," and concluded that "this couple appears to be good candidates for adoption."
Efaw gave Sidell no indications of domestic problems Oct. 13, 2004 five days before Dixon was killed when the foster care coordinator did a safety check of the man's property.
"(HCDJFS) probably looked at several foster homes" before the agency placed Dixon with the Efaws, whom Sidell said were relatively new foster parents.
"When we licensed him, I didn't think he'd endanger a child," she said.
Lucas County Deputy Coroner Dr. Diane Scala-Barnett testified Wednesday that Dixon died from a stab wound to the chest that included "five separate internal tracks," meaning Efaw pulled the knife in and out of the girl's body.
The weapon was "within very little space" of coming out of the back of her body, Scala-Barnett explained.
"The knife was very big. She was little," the forensic pathologist added.
Scala-Barnett, who performed Dixon's autopsy, estimated she has done between 750 and 1,000 which were ruled homicides. She has performed almost 8,000 autopsies since 1985.
Dixon probably died within "a matter of minutes" from wounds that accumulated about 40 ounces of blood near her heart and lungs, Scala-Barnett said. She further testified that Efaw likely was behind his foster daughter during the altercation in Efaw's shed and "drove" the knife into her chest.
Testimony from the 2005 criminal case revealed that Dixon found the knife in the shed and threatened Efaw, his foster son and his biological daughter, all of whom had been raking leaves nearby. He was able to get Dixon away from the two children and had a defense wound running the length of his forearm after struggling with Dixon in the shed, out of the children's line of vision.
Stover, when he took the stand, cried loudly and dabbed his eyes with a tissue as he talked about his granddaughter, Dixon. She lived beside him in an Egypt Road trailer until 1999 and visited her grandfather regularly.
"My house was her house," Stover said, telling the court he misses Dixon "terribly."
"I have nightmares. I can't sleep through the night," he said. "I just can't get over it."
Stover has had to pull off the road because he said he gets so emotional sometimes thinking about his granddaughter.
"I just can't get her off my mind," he said.