It’s been nearly 11 years since Assistant Iowa Attorney General Charles Thoman dropped into the western Iowa city of Harlan. He was the powerful one-man prosecution crew against Dixie Shanahan.
When Thoman finally left town, in May of 2004, he accomplished his mission. He branded Dixie Shanahan as a convicted and cold killer — just as he intended to do.
“I never felt cross examining the defendant Dixie Shanahan would be a slam-dunk,” Thoman told me last year in preparation for my book’s publication. “In fact, I expected it would be difficult. In preparing my cross examination, I was concerned that she might present a very sympathetic figure to the jury.”
Readers of my #Amazon #bestseller, DIXIE’S LAST STAND: WAS IT MURDER OR SELF-DEFENSE? www.wildbluepress.com/Dixie often view Thoman as a polarizing figure. Some sympathizers of Dixie have characterized Thoman as being more interested in a win-at-all-cost prosecution. Other #truecrime readers of DIXIE reacted differently. They sided with Thoman. They wholeheartedly agreed with his reflective analysis that I included toward the end of my book.
To this day, Thoman has no misgivings about how the murder trial and ensuing sentencing turned out. Thoman said he greatly respects domestic violence advocates, but vehemently disagrees with those individuals who bitterly opposed his decision to prosecute Dixie Shanahan for murdering her abusive husband, Scott.
Many of Dixie’s friends and admirers lined up to testify on her behalf as a defense trial witness. That probably did her more harm than good. One particular witness testified how Dixie’s husband broke Dixie’s jaw during an explosive outburst.
“In fact, that was not true,” Thoman pointed out. “On cross examination, she became very hostile toward me. With some prodding she admitted, very reluctantly, that she was wrong when she testified earlier that Scott had broken Dixie’s jaw.”
Thoman sensed that the 12-member jury picked up on this.
“It helped them avoid emotion and sympathy in evaluating all the evidence in the case,” Thoman told me.
Last year, Thoman called it quits after remarkable and highly successful career as a regional criminal prosecutor for the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.
Thoman’s hometown daily newspaper, The Sioux City Journal, wrote a nice in-depth feature story on December 15, 2013. It was appropriately headlined “Case Closed.”
Now in his early sixties, Thoman is enjoying retirement. He often travels.
DIXIE’S LAST STAND also includes Thoman’s candidness about whether Dixie should be let out of prison. Dixie now 47, will get another opportunity to petition the Iowa Board of Parole for release this coming summer.