Wearing a yellow jumpsuit and in handcuffs, the man accused of killing a Selma police officer pleaded not guilty in Fresno County Superior Court on Thursday.
Nathaniel Dixon, 23, is accused of shooting and killing Gonzalo Carrasco Jr. on Jan. 31 on the streets of Selma. Carrasco reportedly spotted Dixon after responding to reports of a man acting suspiciously.
As Carrasco approached Dixon, investigators say, Dixon shot him immediately and fled. A short time later, Dixon was arrested.
Potential Death Penalty Case
Dixon faces one count of first-degree murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. Public defender Scott Baly entered the plea on his client’s behalf. Judge Samuel Dalesandro set a pre-preliminary hearing for April 13.
Because of the special circumstance involving the alleged murder of a police officer, this is potentially a death penalty case.
“I’m still looking for a second attorney — to get a mitigation expert and a medical doctor and, of course, an investigator. We’ll get a legal assistant on it. So we’re going to build a team and dedicate it to this case,” Baly said.
The judge ordered the media not to photograph Dixon’s face. Baly said “identity is an issue,” even though his booking photo is public.
Who is Nathaniel Dixon?
“Around age 18, he comes to Selma looking for his biological mother and father and … the trouble kind of starts in that time frame. We’ve got a lot of work to do on his case.” — Defense attorney Scott Baly
Baly said that Dixon was in foster care and eventually adopted. The Dixon family lived in the Bay Area city of Brentwood before moving to Texas when Nathaniel was 11.
“Around age 18, he comes to Selma looking for his biological mother and father and … the trouble kind of starts in that time frame. We’ve got a lot of work to do on his case. There’s a lot of background information that we don’t have that we need,” Baly said.
“This case is going to get a lot of publicity. But we need more time to kind of flesh out his backstory and what happened that day.”
Baly said his client had no comment about the case.
Killing of Officer Sparks Statewide Debate
Law enforcement arrested Dixon six times in an 18-month period between 2019 and 2020. He was released early from prison in September 2022, initially sentenced to more than five years stemming from gun and drug charges in August 2020.
Dixon’s early release — because of time credits — sparked a debate through soundbites between Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp and Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Smittcamp blamed the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for giving Dixon more early release credits than he deserved. State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, told KSEE “Sunday Morning Matters” she will call for an audit of Dixon’s time credits.