By Betsy Finklea
A $30,000 surety bond was set on Jamarius Bethea in General Sessions Court on Monday in the July shooting death of Shondale Dixon at a cookout.
Assistant Solicitor Shipp Daniel said Bethea was at his home with several people. There was a verbal dispute between the victim and Bethea’s brother, and Bethea came to defend him. The result was that Dixon was fatally shot. He had been multiple times. Bethea was outside with his hands up when law enforcement arrived. Daniels said this is headed to a Duncan (Stand Your Ground) hearing. Daniel said given the facts, he felt that a fair bond was in order.
Jennifer Carter, Shondale’s mother, made a heartfelt speech about the son she has lost. She read the following statement that she had written. “I stand here today with a broken heart. Half of me is gone, when my first-born, my 25-year-old son, Shon, was taken away too soon on July 2nd. He was the father of four children, a fiance, brother, and grandson. Shone was a top tree climber for Lewis Tree Co. for approximately six years and resided in Charleston until he moved back to Dillon after his papa died in February of this year. Shon wanted to be here for his granny. He was a family man and a great dad to a seven, five, two year old and a seven month old. He was a very hard worker and was always being praised on his job for being the best at what he did. He took pride in it. Shon loved Sunday dinners at granny’s. He loved to cook, and from time to time would tell me to send him my recipe for this or that. Shon would also call or text me early some mornings and say “mama say a prayer for me. I’m climbing a tall one today.” After praying my heart would still be so uneasy until he got outta that tree and called me back and said, ‘Mama. I did it. I’m good.’”
“Shon told me like a week before his death that the offender’s family felt like his real family. (I assume that’s when was planning on attending the cookout, reason he made that statement) but unfortunately, on July 2nd, it became the worst day of my life. When I got the call that my son had been shot, all I could do was once again , pray….not knowing that not once, twice, or three times, but multiple times, he had been shot. Seeing my son lying there face down in a pool of blood scarred me for life! As it did a few more people that were there and saw him after the fact. That vision every day with sorrow, comes waves of panic of not being able to ever see him again. I can never talk to him, hold him, and nevermore be a part of this life. I am tormented at the thought of what he endured. I try to play it out in my mind (all of the different stories that I have heard). Only the ones in there along with Shon knew what went on. It’s their word against his, and he no longer had a voice. I wonder when did he realize that he was in danger. I wonder what was said before he was gunned down. I wonder could it have been deescalated with so many in that one space. I wonder how long he was conscious, knowing he was dying. Had he of been shot once or twice, he had a higher rate of survival than being shot multiple times. We could’ve cared for him and nurtured him back to health. But there is not comfort to be found. There is no consoling thought in the way Shon died. His fiancee and children were just on the other side of the wall. His two-year-old being very traumatized from having to hear and run away from all of the gunshots, constantly asking for his daddy, and not comprehending that daddy isn’t coming back. I, as a mother, can only hope he had a little talk with Jesus and that one day, I’ll see him again.”
“This tragedy has affected a community who loved Shon. he could enter a room and brighten it with his personality, his smile, or silly little dances. he loved to cook and to learn how to be the handyman around home. If you showed him once, you didn’t have to tell him anymore. I’ve learned over the last few years, just how strong Shon was, working in 100 degree weather for 10 hours a day, coming home to cook supper for his family, wash his kids for bed, and with just a few hours of sleep, start the next day anew. Not too many things would cause him to miss work either.”
“His tree crew and community knew Shon as being cheerful and easy-going, that he loved his children, family, and friends. It really showed. Shon and his family recently stated attending the church he grew up in. He was becoming a man and wanted structure in his life.”
“There’s not a day that goes by, my heart doesn’t ache, my stomach in knots, not my eyes without a tear, The loss of a child is something that I could have never prepared for. Five months prior, my dad chose to take his own life. Shon didn’t have that choice. Someone made that choice for him. he did not die on his terms. He did not want to leave us and I know he wouldn’t have put his family and friends in danger had he known.”
“He had so many dreams and so many plans for the future. He would have made those dreams come true, but his life was cut short, taken, and irreversible. He did achieve his goal of being a hard worker and a great father, a loving fiance, best brother, and a changed man who was striving to be the best he could be at all of the above. He achieved his goal of being proud of himself. I cannot be the father he was to his kids. They no longer have that protector. They are fatherless, lost, hurt, and distraught. No one can ever fill his shoes. We cannot get him back. Our lives will never be the same. Three of his children have been enrolled in counseling as well as his fiancee.”
She continued, “My outlook on life has changed since Shon died. I am more cautious. I worry more about my other children and grandchildren. I value more than ever the security of home—the wider world has lost its appeal. It is too painful to contemplate my future without Shon and my grandkids future without their dad so I live in the here and now. I think of Shon all the time but the mornings and evenings are particularly painful. In the morning, I wake up to the awful reality that Shon in gone. In the evenings, around the time he was murdered, I let out silent screams as tears roll down my face. I hold my pillow, say my prayers and wish to fall asleep quickly to escape the heartache.
A wife who loses a husband is called a widow.
A husband who loses a wife is called a widower.
A child who loses his parents is called an orphan.
A parent that loses a child, well there is not word for,
That’s how awful the pain is.”
After Carter’s statement, the defense attorney said that this was a tragic situation and asked the judge to set bond. He said that Bethea is 19-years-old and lives with his mother. He was employed prior to his arrest and has no criminal history. His attorney said he believed they had a valid “stand your ground” defense. He said Bethea was not out in the street looking for trouble, but was at home. He said he was not a flight risk, and if released on bond, he could live with his mother. The attorney asked the judge to set a reasonable bond.
The judge set a $30,000 surety bond. Bethea cannot have any contact with the victim’s family and cannot get any new charges while out on bond.