A Chesterfield County man was sentenced to four years and two months in prison for fatally shooting his sister’s boyfriend during a dispute after apparently mistaking a cellphone in the victim’s hand for a gun.
Tyvin K. Dixon, 28, was coming toward Kevin Brockenbrough, then 24, after the two argued at Dixon’s residence when Brockenbrough pulled his gun and fired five times in what his attorney described as an act of self-defense. Two rounds struck Dixon in his chest and shoulder area. He later died.
Brockenbrough opened fire after seeing an object in Dixon’s hand, but no gun was ever found. Dixon ran to his neighbor’s house after being shot, and his cellphone later was found covered in blood near his neighbor’s car, according to evidence.
Brockenbrough was charged with first-degree murder after the Oct. 21, 2019, slaying in the 9700 block of River Road.
But on the eve of his trial that was to have commenced this week in Chesterfield County Circuit Court, an agreement between prosecutors and Brockenbrough’s defense team was reached that resulted in Brockenbrough pleading guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter. An accompanying charge of felonious use of a firearm was dropped.
The agreement for voluntary manslaughter was “consistent with a theory of self-defense with Brockenbrough being partially at fault,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ken Chitty, who prosecuted the case with Shawn Gobble.
Brockenbrough was sentenced to 10 years with five years and 10 months suspended, giving him four years and two months to serve. The punishment was at the midpoint of discretionary sentencing guidelines calculated for Brockenbrough.
“He did shoot a gun and it was self-defense,” defense attorney David Whaley said. But had the case gone to trial, “the validity of the self-defense claim would ultimately” have been a question for a jury to decide.
Whaley said his client believed Dixon had a gun in his hand. “I think we would have been able to establish that [Dixon], even though he was a twice convicted felon, [owned] a gun” — and therefore potentially had access to a firearm during the dispute with Brockenbrough.
“They never found a gun, but after [Dixon] was shot he ran through a very heavily wooded area,” Whaley said.
Had the case gone to trial, “we would have shown the propensity of [Dixon] towards violence, including his criminal record for robbery and other acts that he had committed while both in and out of prison,” said Whaley, who represented Brockenbrough with co-counsel Abigail Paules.
According to a summary of evidence, Chesterfield officers responded to Dixon’s home about 7:45 p.m. and found him with two gunshot wounds and struggling to breath. When officers asked who shot him, Dixon responded, “Brother.” An officer then asked, “Your brother?” and Dixon replied, “Her brother.”
Police determined that Dixon lived at the River Road address with Kiara Flowers, who was Brockenbrough’s sister. Brockenbrough had also lived at that address until recently moving.
Investigators recovered five cartridge casings from the scene.
Flowers was not at the residence when officers arrived, but police located her later that night.
She told police she was present when an altercation occurred between her brother and boyfriend. After providing “somewhat conflicting statements,” Flowers told police that Brockenbrough and Dixon were arguing before Dixon went inside the house. When Dixon came back outside, Brockenbrough shot him, Flowers said at the time.
But during Brockenbrough’s preliminary hearing in December 2019, Flowers’ story evolved. She testified that Dixon “was doing all the arguing” and when Dixon exited the house, “he had stepped forward toward Brockenbrough with something in his hand,” Chitty said.
Flowers, who was pregnant with Dixon’s child, never provided a satisfactory answer as to what Dixon and Brockenbrough were arguing about. But she noted the two “had been having issues for a while,” Chitty said.