Guilty pleas mean maximum prison sentence for Lexington bystander's park death may be 12 years

Anita Franklin, the mother of Antonio Franklin, and Lexington police Sgt. Rahsaan Berry created the "We Care" initiative to help combat violence in Lexington.
Anita Franklin, the mother of Antonio Franklin, and Lexington police Sgt. Rahsaan Berry created the "We Care" initiative to help combat violence in Lexington. Herald-Leader

The longest prison sentence possible for the four teens pleading guilty to roles in the 2014 "impulse" shooting death of an innocent bystander in a Lexington park may be 12 years.

Nasheim Dixon pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree manslaughter and two counts of wanton endangerment in Antonio Franklin's shooting death.

William Dixon, Nasheim's cousin, and Bryan Brown pleaded guilty Friday to two counts each of of wanton endangerment.

Nasheim Dixon could face 12 years in prison, while Brown and William Dixon could face two years.

A fourth teen, Daymion Jacobi Sanders, 17, was sentenced last month to seven years in prison. He entered an Alford plea after being charged with second-degree manslaughter. In an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges that there is enough evidence to convict but doesn't admit guilt.

Antonio Franklin, 21, was shot in the head and was found lying near some Duncan Park swings about 6:30 p.m. April 13, 2014. He died at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. Franklin was an innocent bystander, police have said.

All four charged were initially arrested as juveniles but their cases were moved to adult court. Their ages now range from 17 to 19.

The three who appeared Friday before Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine publicly revealed their versions of events the night Franklin was killed.

Nasheim Dixon said he was in the car with his cousin, William, and Brown when they saw a group of people in Duncan Park, including Sanders' friend with whom Nasheim Dixon had been "in some beef with.".

Nasheim Dixon said he and the other person had a fistfight earlier in the night. Brown said that fight at a party was over a girl.

Nasheim Dixon said he opened fire "on impulse."

"So you didn't know what was going to happen at that time, you acted on impulse," Goodwine said. "Well now you know what happens ... somebody that had nothing to do with your beef ... has lost his life because of the six of you all."

Franklin's mother, Anita Franklin, has become a visible figure in subsequent efforts to prevent violence in Lexington. She began organizing peace walks after her son was killed.

Franklin said Friday night that the three young men who appeared in court Friday have not offered apologies or signs of remorse.

"They've got to acknowledge what they've done and mean it. ... In order for everybody to heal from this terrible tragedy, people have got to take accountability," she said. "Where is the respect to victims who are willing to forgive?"

Nasheim Dixon was originally charged with murder, two counts of attempted murder, first-degree wanton endangerment and violating the conditions of release. Brown and William Dixon were charged with two counts of attempted murder.

Police said Franklin was shot as the Dixons and Brown exchanged gunfire multiple times with Sanders, who said he was targeted and protecting himself.

Police initially said Nasheim Dixon shot at Sanders with intent to kill.

At Sanders' sentencing last month, Franklin's mother said she forgave Sanders.

"When you see me crying today, it's not only for Antonio but for you as well," she said to Sanders. "I just want you to understand you aren't only hurting our family, your family, you're hurting the kids that were in the park, you're hurting yourself. And I hope that whatever happens ..., when you get out, that your behavior changes."

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