On September 12th, 2014 Danny Zeitz needed extra money to pay some bills. With great reluctance he put an ad up on Craigslist offering to sell his PlayStation 4 to make the ends meet that month. An act his girlfriend of 2 years, Brit Crowder, says:
“He would never sell any gaming anything for anyone. Because he loved me, he decided he was gonna do that.”
The answer to his ad was swift and made by Kayla Dixon (then 16) and her boyfriend, Nathaniel Vivian (20). Vivian had sold his own PlayStation 4 to pay rent some weeks earlier and, according to Dixon, he had wanted to rob someone else of theirs. They planned for weeks on robbing someone, even searching for videos on “how to rob someone” on YouTube.
So when Danny Zeitz posted his ad to Craigslist, Kayla and Nathaniel jumped at the opportunity. They loaded up their 16 month old child, put the gun into the glove box, and they were off. According to Kayla, their intent was just to rob him, using the gun as an intimidation device.
When the couple, appearing the happy family with baby in tow, pulled up to his apartment, Danny was ready and waiting. Brit says that the baby’s presence helped alleviate fears, and, “He didn’t think anything bad would happen because he would never do something like that to someone else.”
Well, looks can be deceiving, and in this case they were.
Vivian and Dixon planned to snatch the Playstation and run, but Danny didn’t want to let it go, and didn’t see the gun. He needed the money for his family, and was willing to fight for those he loved. During the brief scuffle, Kayla pulled out the gun and fired. The bullet hit Nathaniel in the hand, injuring him. It passed through and struck Danny with a fatal blow.
The murderers fled, rushing to the ER to get Nathaniel’s wound treated. The hospital staff and local police in Brookhaven didn’t believe the couples’ suspect story of Vivian being robbed in town, and eventually Vivian admitted to being shot in a robbery he was perpetrating.
Due to the nature of the crime, then 16-year-old Kayla Dixon, was tried as an adult. During the trial she admits her guilt and plead as such on the day of the trial. In a teary prepared statement Dixon does express some remorse at what she did:
“I would trade anything, almost anything, to bring Daniel back. But I know I can’t. I know he had plans. I wish I could tell him I’m so, so sorry that this happened, but I can’t.I want Daniel’s family to know that I regret that day. I’m so sorry. I ask that God heals the hearts of Daniel’s loved ones. I know I’m facing a long time away and I hope one day my apology will matter.”
Kayla’s attorney tried to explain that Kayla had a rough childhood that included being raped and being involved in several ill advised relationships with criminally active men. The lawyer offered this information as an explanation as to why Kayla’s life went so wrong, not as an excuse for her actions.
Kayla was sentenced to 40 years in jail for the murder of Danny Zeitz. Her then boyfriend, Nathaniel, will be put on trial later this summer. Kayla however says she is willing to testify against him if need be.
In a rare case, the family is making strides to forgive Kayla. Patty and John Zeitz, Danny’s mother and father respectively, say they hope Kayla will be rehabilitated in prison, and that:
“I thought her apology today was very heartfelt and I feel like she is truly sorry for what happened. It’s just a crime that young people can get caught in these situations because of the examples they’d had in their lives.”
28-year-old Danny Zeitz was a semi-professional gamer with many fans, and was the subject of the documentary “Level Up.”
This is a tragedy for all involved. The Zeitz family have lost a wonderful son, his girlfriend lost someone she loved, the gaming community lost an awesome fellow player/geek, and Kayla’s 16 month old child will now have to grow up parent-less.
You geeks be careful out there, especially when making deals with expensive electronics/items through sites like Craigslist. Do any of you have any advice or safety tips for those planning on making such deals?