Suspect in Duncan’s murder arraigned
HOUGHTON — The Houghton man accused of committing a murder in downtown Houghton Monday night was denied bond in 97th District Court Friday.
Evan Dixon, 59, was arrested Monday on charges of fatally shooting Theron Duncan, 53, of Houghton with a pistol at the Douglass House Saloon.
Dixon is charged with first-degree murder-premeditated, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and felony firearms, punishable by up to two years in prison.
Duncan was publicly announced as the victim at Friday’s hearing. A display outside the Douglass House Saloon paid tribute to him with flowers, candles and other items.
Judge Nicholas Daavettila of 97th District Court denied pretrial release. He echoed the argument made by Assistant Attorney General Richard Cunningham, who said Dixon’s bond should be denied, given the serious nature of the charges. Dixon did not object, saying “I want to stay in here.”
Dixon is a longtime lawyer in the region. His prominence in the local legal community will also lead to changes in representation on both sides of the bench.
Dixon said at Friday’s hearing he would not be able to afford his own attorney. David Gemignani of the Tri-County Public Defenders Office was at the jail with Dixon and represented him Friday. However, he said he would be unable to properly represent Dixon due to their friendship and professional relationship, which has included both working together and against each other.
Instead, the office will contract with Marquette attorney Karl Numinen, who joined the videoconference remotely.
“Every legal instinct in my body and my mind wants to defend Mr. Dixon to the best of my ability,” Gemignani said. “I’ve known Mr. Dixon for over 30 years … I don’t see this as shirking my duty. I see this as doing my duty to make sure that he has someone with that professional independence to advise him.”
Daavettila, previously a local attorney, also recused himself from further proceedings. He has also known Dixon for about 30 years, working with him and later presiding over his cases.
The State Court Administrator’s Office is seeking a substitute judge, Daavettila said.
A probable cause conference is scheduled for Dec. 1, followed by a preliminary examination on Dec. 8. By that time, there will also be a new prosecutor on the case.
Since September, the state attorney general’s office has handled serious felonies in the absence of a county prosecutor. Newly appointed Houghton County Prosecutor Dan Helmer will take over after he officially begins work on Dec. 4, the attorney general’s office said Friday.