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2 face felony trials in alleged patient abuse

(L-R): Defendant Wynton Dixon sits with his attorney, Daniel Bitar, as attorney Maurice Davis sits with his client, defendant Kyle Jackson, as the judge binds the case over to circiut court.

Livonia — Two former workers at a Livonia mental health facility were ordered Thursday to stand trial on felony charges for allegedly abusing a patient in March.

Wynton Dixon, 57 and Kyle Jackson, 30, were bound over by Judge Kathleen McCann of 16th District Court after she watched video footage that investigators say showed them and a third defendant, Victor Peterson, 60, assaulting a mentally ill 49-year-old old Romulus man.

Dixon and Jackson will be tried on two counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm by strangulation, plus misdemeanor charges of third-degree abuse of a vulnerable adult. They will have an arraignment on information Aug. 9 in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Defendant Wynton Dixon reacts as his case is bound over to circuit court.

Peterson, who is charged with misdemeanor counts of third-degree vulnerable adult abuse and assault and battery, had his preliminary exam delayed until Aug. 9 at the request of his attorney.

A fourth defendant, Demetrius Hunt, 28, of Wayne, waived his preliminary exam and will be tried on misdemeanor charges of  third-degree abuse of a vulnerable person, assault and battery and failure to report abuse of a mental health recipient.

All told, 10 people have been charged in connection with the abuse of the Romulus patient plus two others at Livonia COPE: a 26-year-old Redford man and a 51-year-old Dearborn Heights man.

Authorities alleged that Dixon, Jackson and Peterson assaulted the Romulus man after he tried to leave the facility March 17. The man was taken to a hospital for treatment of fractures to his nose, face and arms.

In one of the videos shown in court, Peterson is seen shoving the patient into a wall as the man tried to leave.

In another video, Jackson is seen trying to put leg restraints on the patient and, according to police, Dixon strikes the man from behind a drape surrounding the patient's bed.

Defendant Kyle Jackson reacts as his case is bound over to circuit court.

Livonia Sgt. John Cammarata testified that he sees Jackson in the video "kind of holding (the patient) down as if he's punching him."

Meanwhile, said Cammarata, Dixon "throws a punch" at the Romulus man as he is lying in the bed. 

The video also shows the man sliding across the floor; it was not clear from the footage if he fell or was pushed.

During the confrontation with the Romulus man, Jackson suffered a bite mark to his forearm. His attorney, Maurice Davis, said the bite came from the patient.

The footage shows police arriving and Dixon telling them the patient has been aggressive.

Davis told McCann the felony count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm against his client is an "overcharge."

"You have an employee trying to restrain an unruly patient," he said.

Dixon's attorney, Daniel Bitar, said his client only "threw one punch" at  the Romulus man and that "my client was on the side and not part of what was taking place."

But Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Dominic DeGrazia disputed the defense attorneys' characterization, saying the patient suffered serious injuries and cuts to his face.

"You have the defendants repeatedly beating the patients in the head," he said. 

In ordering Dixon and Jackson to stand trial on the felony charges, McCann said the Romulus patient "was treated with undue force."

 "These things should not happen to someone who's in prison, let alone someone who's mentally challenged," the judge said. "It shouldn't happen to an animal."

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