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News Brief Personal Defense

Woman Stabs Ex-Boyfriend, Judge Declares Self-Defense

by Richard Nance   |  February 7th, 2012 45

Chef's_knife_gripOn Nov. 21, 2011, Geneva Dixon of Oakland, Calif., stabbed her ex-boyfriend and child’s father, Norris Lewis, to death with a knife. Following the incident, Dixon was arrested and charged with murder. She has been in custody since her arrest. However, a judge recently dismissed the murder charge against Dixon after an investigation revealed that Dixon acted in self-defense.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, investigators believe Lewis went to Dixon’s apartment on the 3500 block of Galindo Street after Dixon told Lewis she wanted to end their relationship, which involved a history of domestic violence.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said, “During the encounter, Mr. Lewis strangled Ms. Dixon twice. Breaking free from his choking, Ms. Dixon got a steak knife from the kitchen and ordered Mr. Lewis to leave. He attacked her again and she stabbed him once in the chest, in self-defense.”

In court, Deputy Public Defender Jane Brown read a statement from Dixon, in which her client claimed that she acted, “not out of spite or hatred.” The statement also indicated that Dixon had loved Lewis since she was 14 and that she still loved him and his family unconditionally.

This case brings to light some important legal considerations pertaining to self-defense. At first, the idea of stabbing an unarmed assailant in the chest may seem a bit extreme. In many cases, employing a weapon against an unarmed assailant would not be justified. However, when you consider the history of domestic violence and the fact that Lewis had reportedly just strangled Dixon twice, her decision to arm herself seems more appropriate (Strangling is a serious attack that could result in unconscious or even death). The fact that while armed with the knife, Dixon told Lewis to leave and Lewis attacked her again is also indicative of Dixon acting in self-defense as opposed to committing murder.

The article does not indicate whether Lewis was bigger and stronger than Dixon, but if he were, this “disparity of force” could make it reasonable for Dixon to arm herself because she was incapable of defending herself empty-handed. The same concept could authorize you to use a higher degree of force when faced with more than one assailant, an armed assailant or when you’re tasked with protecting a third party, such as a spouse or a child. Other factors that may be considered when determining the “reasonableness” of your actions might be when you’re ability to defend yourself is diminished due to injury or fatigue, or even when an assailant has the high ground, such as on a stairwell, where a shove could send you tumbling.

If Dixon and Lewis were similar in size and strength or if Lewis had only grabbed Dixon by the arm or shoved her rather than strangled her, there’s a good chance Dixon would remain behind bars and ultimately be convicted of murder.

What are your thoughts?

  • Dennis Novak

    Using a weapon to defend yourself against an unarmed assailant who is significantly bigger, stronger, fiercer, or better trained than you, is completely justified. "God made Man. Sam Colt made them equal."

    Fortunately, no one was hurt.

    • cONFUSED

      No one was hurt? Are you talking about when Sam Colt made all men equal or when the woman in the above article stabbed her ex-boyfriend TO DEATH?

      • DocRod

        Mr. Kovak must have misread the article. Being strangled hurts quite a bit, and having a knife plunged into ones chest probably hurts a tad bit more. The moron ended up dead because he was certainly begging someone to kill him, so I'm happy that he got what he wanted. I just glad that their child didn't lose both parents.

      • J.R. Verdugo

        In this case, only ONE (1) stab did the trick, buddy.

      • Bob

        If you didn't read correctly, he was trying to choke her. He deserved to die.

    • 230 GR JHP

      Better to be judged by 12 then carried by 6……..

  • Big B

    Man….shank any fool that trys to harm you!!! That's the American way! Keep it that way!!! Keep fighting for our rights….to self defense!

  • MotoJB

    If this scumbag truly had a documented history of domestic violence against her and was strangling her with the intent to hurt or kill (especially the mother of his child), then he deserved to get his chest ventilated. She shouldn't have to pay life in prison for defending herself.

  • D Fuentes

    I agree, he could have walked away but decided to take his chances to finish her off but ended up dead. Sounds like justified defense to me.

  • college kickout

    Amazing, how here in Kalifornia one doesn't have the right to defend yourself. Thanks to the gun laws that have been legislated along with the absence of "protection" by the police. (by the way they are NOT obligated to protect you from an attacker, they are only there to uphold the law). I think that if you are accosted by an individual Large or small you have the right to defend yourself even if it means killing them. Because if you don't, they will be incarcerated, and the taxpayers foot the bill for their upkeep, and contrary to the term "Correctional Facility" they DO NOT get "corrected".

    • Dwight Hill

      Keep voting Democrats in , when that's what you get , stupid laws . And , the police won't protect you , especially under Husseins laws . In most cases , they , police , are only here after the fact . That's why they investigate .

  • John Doe

    Whether he was bigger and stronger has no merit, he attacked her and forfeited his right to life by doing so.
    The only "fair" fight is the one you win. Regardless of who, if attacked, remove the threat permanently.

    • Dwight Hill

      Not to the laws . If she was bigger , guess what ? It was only her side of the story . They need talk to his family . And , they only said that the her and him had spats in the past . It didn't say anything about arresting him . They also didn't have any marks on her neck . Isn't that kind a odd , it is to me .

  • sammy parker

    I think the castle law ought to be applied in all states,she was within her rights.

  • Gloves

    Time to vote this woman mayor of Oakland and have her clean house! Good for her.

  • George Lyon

    Whether or not he was bigger or stronger than she, he attacked her in a manner where death or serious bodily harm was likely. Deadly force was clearly justified in that circumstance

  • Steve

    Wait! Where's the anti-knife brigade? They could join forces with Mayor's for Gun Control and have to license every kitchen knife. Now if she had used a gun they'd be all over her like fleas on a rabbit. Funny how that works, isn't it????

  • James

    Any man who hits a woman deserves that kind of treatment. I'm just sorry Ms. Dixon feels bad about it. She shouldn't. In the least.



  • Mike

    I think the deeper issue here is the fact that she should not have been charged with murder in the first place. The setting for this foolishness has something to do with it and the FACT that some agencys care more about closing a case than justice.

  • MadDog2047

    With that set of facts, why was she even arrested? Why was she and her children separated for several months? I think the D. A's are more and more Anti Gun and too fast to charge a crime. Locally here last year, a farmer confronted three trespassers and ordered them off of his property. When they became threatening to the farmer, he drew his pistol, ON HIS OWN PROPERTY, and just told them to withdraw. He claims that he did not point his pistol at the trespassers. The trespassers pressed charge against the farmer for assault with a deadly weapon and the DA took it to court with an additional charge of carrying a concealed weapon w/o a permit. The Farmer was found not guilty by a Jury but had to pay for his defense and his lawyer. While the right to defend may be a personal right, it seems that the D A's have forgotten "The American Way!"

    • Dwight Hill

      If it was you , you would be sent to jail too . She didn't post bail , too bad . That's why she was put on jail . And , you are only allowed you're house to draw a gun . Learn the laws of this country . Did those people on his land draw a gun ? That's what the laws say .

  • Now I've done it

    Some of you folks are awful fast with your judgements – what if that had been you brother or father who had been stabbed to death – you just want the police to take her word for what happened? God forbid, but what if you are killed trying to defend yourself and the assaliant calims YOU attacked HIM – you want them to take his word for it too? That is why whenever a life is taken is it investigated. I know it is hard to believe, but sometimes women lie.

    • Al Brady

      I'd really expect some evidence of the true event (bruising of her neck, etc) would have been apparant even a few minutes after the situation completed. Call off the investigation? No way. But CHARGE her? Oh hell no!

      • Dwight Hill

        Why you NOT charge her ? Do the police make that call ? Or is that for a jury ? And , she says that he tried to choke her , but , the writer didn't say if she had any marks . It was only her side , not anything from his side . Makes you wonder , well maybe not , but me ? I wonder what they found that choke .

  • LostLakeDave

    That last comment suggests that we should measure justice by who hurts whom. I don't agree. If my brother (I have two, and I love both) was killed by the victim of his domestic violence, I'd be saddened but accept it. If it were my brother, I'd expect the police to check it out. Should take a couple of days, max. But months? That's ridiculous! I don't cheer any violence, but I'm more than satisfied with this outcome.

    • Dwight Hill

      It doesn't matter how fast the police find , it's how busy your court is that sets the trial .

  • MMcQuown

    As I understand it, in the UK, knife control is becoming a big issue. Even some large kitchen knives are being considered for registration, as well as swords. Every time there is an out cry against a specific instrument of crime, focus is diverted from the issue of the crime itself. The woman was well within her rights; strangulation is a form of lethal attack. We need to initiate a clear right of self-defence law. And why is it that these 'human rights' groups never include self-defence?

  • Fabio A Castillo

    It is not without regret that this woman did what she did. Too often the perpetrator of domestic violence, or any violence, believes that their intended victim is too weak to fight back. This another prime example of why thos of us with daughters must teach them that they are not victims or prey upon only a man, their father or otherwise, can come to their aid. This article does not reference whether she had time to call authorities, but average response times measured in tens of minutes, what was she to do in the meanwhile.

    A firearm, or any firearm, is nothing more than a tool or equalizer. Our women, including the younger ones, must be taught to use them safely and effectively.

    What would you say to your daughter, sister, or spouse?

  • hicusdicus

    You sure can use a weapon against an unarmed assailant. You need to brush up on the law. Assailant, does that not mean attacked in fear of your well being.

  • Karl

    Ongoing trial here in Virginia of ex-boyfriend attacking girl in apartment. He busted down door and beat her head in. She 's dead.
    My daughters have been taught they have every right to defend themselves from threat of physical abuse or attack using WHATEVER means necessary. Waiting until you are absolutely sure it is a life threatening attack is a pretty bad plan.(Is just wanting to rape them reason to defend with deadly force? Yes.) Once someone continues to advance on you after being told to leave, stop or seen a demonstration of your readiness to defend yourself, THEY have made the choice to place you in fear of bodily harm or death. Their death or injury is on them at that point.

  • Mark

    The domicile was invaded. Defense of self and home justified. Resident survived, attacker did not. Results favorable to victim, thank goodness, but she will have memories of the pain caused by someone she loved who turned against her in his attempts to commit murder. She can also care for their child, not have the child live on societies whim on what is good for the child, the responsible parent decides and is alive to guide the children to adulthood.

  • Graywolf

    This case and many of the comments here shows why local elections are so IMPORTANT. It has taken decades for the lefties to take most of the local positions, and now they are moving to state houses and the Kremlin on the Potomac. Educate everyone you know and VOTE,VOTE,VOTE!!!

  • BJC

    I know this was in Cali. but you should have the right as a human being to defend yourself. Basically if you feel your life is threatened you have the right to defend your self by any means available. Size, and past history make no difference. If someone half your size that you've never met before threatens you life you have the right to defend yourself, period.

  • Larry Chapman

    She did what she had to do to defend herself, it is what it is.

  • Nytefytr

    The DA was obviously politically motivated to charge the woman with murder – that individual really doesnt care about justice, although the woman had enough supporting evidence to justify her actions.

    Having said that, even though one defends themselves in the real world, this is really about what happens after the fact – how the legal system (whether in Cali or anywhere else in the US) will pursue or not pursue a conviction. "Reasonableness" be damned – unless you live in a jurisdiction where the pursuit of the truth is at the forefront – and those places are few and far between – get a really good lawyer and prepare to have your time in court.

    • Jstanley01

      Well put. O'Malley said "blah-blah-blah" after the judge ruled against her, but she had the facts. Why did she charge the woman in the first place? Time to boot that one out, voters.

  • Rob Cunningham

    Are you all nuts, the man was not invited into the home, he was told to leave, he attacked two times and the courts are saying that if he did not do this or that than its murder. Are you nuts she had every right to defend herself.

  • Alex

    The justice system and the society in general is so screwed that if the situation had been reversed (i.e. boyfriend stabs his gfriend), he would have been convicted for murder for life! Self-defence option would not be available to him. Talking about equality, eh?

    We need to change that, guys!

  • Doug

    As Ghandi said " I am aperson of integrity and worth, I believe you are also I will not attack you nor will I allow you to attack me. If someone is kicking down my door I am not going to ask their intent, they are going to get shot.

  • Aounomous

    If a person is sanding you with you a knife you have the right to diene your selfe I say good her she fhigthihg back
    Good thing but have laws to she know that her boy-ferind was hurting why did not call the police and let them take of Ti way would not have to st stab him . Anounous did she she must have snapped for that to happen bet that was hurt by him for long- time in life throw a bad hand . Is good if someone is hurting you have right deften your selfe . By any means with a knife or a gun , is your right bing by a other person . Alumnus

  • Dave

    ok first off
    lets give the district attorney credit for doing his job.
    had he NOT PRESSED charges the family of the dead attacker would have had grounds to
    litigate against SOMEBODY
    this way, the woman has been cleared formally by a jury of her peers and there is NO ONUS of guilt on her.
    I would like to think, that this is why she was charged, so as to make it clear she was innocent by trial.

    Having said that,
    she was in her house with her child to protect. Deadly force any day of the week is justified. What is to have stopped this fellow from taking her kid and tossing out the window of his car like that guy did last year in California? No, she did what was needed. Not going to discuss gun law vs states to live in or other things. Just glad we are minus one scumbag

  • mallen026

    My family is in a situation just like this case but this happened in Shelby County Alabama. My sister loved this young man also even though he was abusive to her. She broke the relationship off for about two months. He called her and asked her to come to his job so they can talk and he was sorry for everything he put her through. But he was not sorry because when she picked him up from his job he began choking her as she was trying to drive. She pulled over and asked him to get out he wouldnt he got mad and started choking her again thats when she stabbed him once in his chest. He died and my sister was charged with murder. Alabama do not have any self- defense laws so they say. We are waiting on her appeal, because we know things will be different because we believe in GOD!!!

  • Victoria

    I'm reading your comments and while I also agree with anyone's right to defend themselves, did you bother to google Norris Lewis and find out the facts of the case before you say he deserved to die? Did you know that HE broke up with HER and was only at his former home to retrieve his belongings. Did you know that he was a culinary student at Laney College? Did you know that he had never been charged with a domestic? Did you know he was an amazing father who tried to do everything for his children? Did you know everyone who knows this woman doesn't believe her story? The sad thing is, is that it's people like her who murder and then lie and say was in self defense that make it harder for the real victims. Rest in Peace Norris Lewis Sr.


    Any prosecutor claiming that strangulation doesn’t warrant drastic measures of self defence should be willing to stand still and allow anyone to strangle him/her to the point of total collapse, without fear of legal retribution.

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