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Death penalty pursued over burned woman's death

ZANESVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A prosecutor plans to seek the death penalty for a man on trial in the gruesome death of a badly burned woman found wailing in agony along a rural, eastern Ohio road.

It took more than a week to choose a jury for the potential capital punishment case, and opening statements were expected Tuesday, the Zanesville Times Recorder (http://ohne.ws/1e5ZxlR ) reported.

LaFonse Dixon, 34, has pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping and arson in the death of 29-year-old Celeste Fronsman. A driver found Fronsman northeast of Zanesville in August 2012. The Canton woman had been severely burned and had a strap around her neck. She died two days later.

Prosecutors have declined to discuss any motive.

Two younger women arrested with Dixon pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and agreed to testify against him to avoid the death penalty. Under the deals, the Muskingum County prosecutor's office is expected to recommend life in prison without parole for one of the women, Katrina Culberson, and life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years for the other, Monica Washington.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Dixon, Assistant Prosecutor Ron Welch told the newspaper.

In a jailhouse interview with the Times Recorder last year, Dixon confessed he was a drug dealer but denied involvement in Fronsman's death and said he was with family and friends when she was attacked. Dixon said he had seen his sister die in a house fire and wouldn't "do anything like that to someone."

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