JUNEAU — Marjorie Jones will testify for the defense today in the murder trial of her son, Laverne Ware Jr., who is on trial in the death of Sesalie Dixon, his girlfriend and first cousin.
Ware also is charged with hiding a corpse, incest and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Dixon’s body was found Dec. 4, 2016, in the passenger seat of a pickup truck owned by Ware, parked in the garage of a Fox Lake home he owned and where his mother resided. An autopsy revealed that Dixon, 27, died of three gunshots to the head.
Jones, whom the defense has cited as a possible alternative suspect in the case, was convicted on related charges of harboring/aiding a felon for hiding the gun that killed Dixon along with possession of a firearm as a felon, and was sentenced last March to six years in prison.
Ware last saw his mother on Jan. 23, 2018, when he took the stand during Jones’ trial and invoked the Fifth Amendment in order to avoid testifying. Jones has been serving her sentence at Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Fond du Lac, though she has been temporarily moved to the Dodge County Jail to be able to testify during Ware’s trial.
Jones will be the third witness to appear for the defense after the state rested its case on Wednesday morning.
The defense began by calling Stanley Johnson, Jones’ older brother and Dixon’s father. Johnson is awaiting trial in Milwaukee County on charges related to allegedly physically assaulting a West Allis Police Officer during a domestic incident, and is currently in custody at the Dodge County Jail to allow him to testify in Ware’s trial.
Defense attorney Aneeq Ahmad asked Johnson if he had always believed Dixon was his daughter, and he said he did not.
Johnson recalled Ware asking him to submit to a DNA test sometime in 2016. Johnson said the DNA test was originally handed to him, but Dixon took it from his hands. She happily reacted to the results when she believed that Johnson wasn’t her father, but soon learned from the woman working at the testing center that Johnson was her father.
“She was really upset, and then I was upset that she was crying,” Johnson remembered.
Johnson was asked about Vernon Mickey, Jones’ former live-in boyfriend, who reported Dixon’s murder.
“I think Vernon Mickey is an honorable man,” Johnson said.
Ahmad reminded Johnson about a conversation he had with a member of the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office after learning about Dixon’s death Dec. 5. During the call, Johnson called Mickey a liar.
“That is before I found out he had nothing to do with (Dixon’s death),” Johnson said.
Johnson had stayed at Jones’ house from Thanksgiving 2016 until right before the homicide. Ahmad asked Johnson if Jones had threatened Dixon.
Johnson said Jones had used terms threatening to “kill” her, but it was meant as a figure of speech rather than an actual threat. Johnson said that Jones might make the comment if someone put the gravy in the wrong bowl or sat on the arm of a chair.
“My sister won’t kill nothing, and she won’t allow anything to die,” Johnson said.
Johnson conceded how his family talks to each other might confuse others.
“I come from a very dysfunctional family,” Johnson said.
Ahmad asked Johnson if he saw Jones around guns.
“I never seen Marjorie with a gun,” Johnson said. “I never seen her touch a gun. My sister Marjorie is terrified of guns.”
Mickey testified on March 6 that Jones had held a gun in the home during an argument with him a short time before Dixon’s death.
Ware’s trial began on March 4 and is scheduled to end Friday.