Candace Pickens: Pregnant North Carolina Woman Executed For Refusing Abortion, Family Says

Candace Pickens was a young woman from North Carolina who loved being a mother to her 3-year-old son Zachaeus. Although she hadn’t planned to get pregnant with her son, when he was born, they developed an instant bond that would only grow stronger over time. Sadly, Zachaeus will never get to see his mother again.

“When she found out she was pregnant, she was scared at first,” Candace’s aunt Irene Jenny Pickens told The Washington Post. “But once she had that baby, it was so natural for her. She loved being a mother. And no matter what she was going through, I think he was the one thing that kept her going.”

Unfortunately, Candace’s love for being a mother may have been what led to her death. According to her family, Pickens recently found out she was pregnant with her second child. Her boyfriend, Nathaniel Elijah Dixon, was the father of the child, and had a long history of violence, even violence towards women.

According to the Citizen-Times, Dixon was tagged as a member of the Los Angeles-based street gang, the 4 Tre Gangster Crips. He was involved in a Halloween 2014 shootout at Lee Walker Heights and was charged with several felonies. Prior to the Halloween incident, in April 2014, an Asheville woman, who has not been identified, filed the first of two domestic violence protective order applications against him. The woman claimed Dixon had hit her while she was pregnant with his child.

“On March 23, Nate punched me in my face. Had to go to hospital to make sure everything was OK with me and the child I’m currently pregnant with,” the woman said at the time.

Considering Dixon’s violent past, it was not much of a surprise to Candace’s family when they found out her relationship with Dixon had become abusive, and it appears as though the abuse escalated when Dixon discovered she was pregnant with his child.

On May 12, in the early morning hours, a jogger at a park in Asheville discovered Candace’s body. Police said she was shot at point-blank range execution style. Lying next to her was Zachaeus, who was also shot in the head, barely clinging to life. Candace was declared dead at the scene, and Zachaeus was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

Mekia Waters, the child’s grandmother, confirmed that Zachaeus was shot in the head and lost his left eye. He is currently in critical, but stable, condition.

“My grandson is in stable condition and doing great and he has the doctors surprised,” Waters said. “He’s moving his arms and legs and he’s doing more than what people expected.”

“He’s talking, he asked for juice and he said ‘daddy,'” she added. “He even made his own song up about juice.”

Dixon, 24, is currently being held in a jail in Ohio. He is being charged with first-degree murder in the death of Candace Pickens and attempted first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury to Zachaeus. He is currently awaiting extradition back to North Carolina.

The Pickens’ family firmly believe Candace’s refusal to have an abortion resulted in her murder.

“He found out she was pregnant and he wanted her to abort the baby,” Irene Pickens said. “She would never do that. It wasn’t an option for her, and that’s what sparked the violence. You could tell things were going on between them based on what she was posting on Facebook — but I don’t think anyone expected anything like this.”

Christina Hallingse, a spokeswoman for the Asheville Police Department said the investigation is ongoing, and they cannot confirm or deny the motive for Pickens’ murder.

“The Asheville Police Department does not provide comment on an offender’s motive because that information is sensitive to the case itself,” Hallingse said in a statement. “Our responsibility at this point in the investigation is to present the best case possible to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution of the suspected offender.”

A funeral service for Candace Pickens will be held on Saturday, May 21 at 2 p.m. at Rock Hill Baptist Church.

[Photo via Shutterstock]