"She was a great girl — a beautiful mind, a beautiful heart," the victim's boyfriend told the Asheville Citizen Times
A pregnant North Carolina woman was fatally shot two weeks after she testified as a witness against her ex-boyfriend in a capital murder trial.
On June 12, Tiyquasha Antwonique Simuel, 24, was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds near a West Asheville apartment complex, WPDE, the Charlotte Observer and Asheville Citizen Times report. She was transported to a local hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries. Her baby survived.
Two weeks before her death, Simuel had testified as a witness for Buncombe County prosecutors in a capital murder trial against her ex-boyfriend, Nathaniel Dixon.
Dixon is accused of murdering Candice Pickens in 2016 and also attempting to murder her 3-year-old son, who as a result lost his eye and suffered severe brain injury.
Pickens was pregnant when she was killed. Prosecutors allege Dixon killed Pickens because she would not terminate her pregnancy. They believe he is the father of her unborn child.
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Dixon has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree murder of an unborn child, first-degree attempted murder and child abuse while inflicting serious injury. He has pleaded not guilty.
A heavily pregnant Simuel testified that she was with Dixon on the night of the shooting and the next day went to McDowell County with him so he could pay a ticket. The pair then made an impromptu trip to Ohio as a result of Pickens’ family allegedly threatening them, the Citizen Times reports.
Dixon was arrested in Ohio. Simuel acknowledged that at the time she told a detective she did not believe Dixon committed the crimes.
A day after Simeul’s death, the Citizen Times spoke to a man who asked not be identified but said he was her boyfriend and father of her child. He said he was with her when she was shot but he did not believe she was the intended target.
“I wish it would’ve been me,” he said to the Citizen Times. “We can’t question God’s will, but at the same time I don’t see the reason for this.”
The man said he and Simuel came to Asheville from Las Vegas in May for a baby shower. She had worked in the past with children with autism.
“She was a great girl — a beautiful mind, a beautiful heart,” he told the paper. “I’m crushed. That’s my backbone, my everything.”
No arrests have been made in Simuel’s death.
Anyone with information about the shooting should call city police at 828-252-1110 or Buncombe County CrimeStoppers at 828-255-5050.