Convicted murderer Jerome "Rome" Dickson listened attentively as his victim's daughter spoke about the devastation of losing a parent to senseless violence.
"The murder of my dad literally turned my life upside down," 26-year-old Chantel Baxter told the court on Tuesday during Dickson's guilty-plea hearing.
"I can't fully explain the emotions I experienced, and continue to experience," she said. "I've always been a daddy's girl."
Chantel Baxter said she and her father, 48-year-old William "Mickey" Baxter of York City, shared a special bond "from the day I was born until the day he was taken."
"Those memories -- that bond -- is not something ... a bullet can take away," she said.
She said her father will be on her mind as she walks down the aisle at her wedding, and when she gives birth to her first child.
"The defendant took those moments away from me," Chantel Baxter told the court.
She acknowledged her father "wasn't perfect," but said family meant everything to him, especially his children and grandchildren.
No winners: Mickey Baxter was generous, handsome and "quite a character," his daughter said.
"I just hope my words manifest in the mind and heart of the defendant," Chantel Baxter said. "No one won here today."
Dickson, 25, of York City, pleaded guilty Tuesday to third-degree murder for the July 29, 2012, fatal shooting of Mickey Baxter in the 300 block of South Pine Street in York City, near the corner of Liberty Court.
As part of a negotiated plea agreement, he was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison for the slaying.
Testimony from Dickson's preliminary hearing in April revealed Mickey Baxter owed Dickson money for drugs.
Baxter was laughing and trying to explain he wasn't given all of the money he needed to pay Dickson, witness Natalie Taylor testified in April.
Taylor said Dickson asked Baxter, "You think this is a game?"
He then shot Baxter in the leg and left the scene, she said; Baxter tried to make it to the sidewalk but collapsed and died.
Widow's words: Several other family members of the victim spoke in court as well. Baxter's widow, Theresa Toby-Baxter, wrote a victim-impact statement that was read aloud in court.
She wrote that she and her husband had been planning for their 20th anniversary. They have a son together, 14-year-old Elijah Baxter, who idolized his father.
"I have to look into his eyes every day and see a lost soul," she wrote. "My husband was a good man. My heart is broken and I feel it cannot be mended."
At the end of the hearing, Dickson blurted out, "I want to say sorry to the family," then turned toward them.
"He was a good dude," Dickson told them. "I didn't mean for him to die, but it just happened."
Other cases: Baxter's murder was just one of four violent crimes Dickson entered pleas to on Tuesday.
He pleaded no contest in three other cases, including a shootout and an assault on a woman, for concurrent prison time. Defendants who plead no contest don't admit guilt. Rather, they say they won't contest the charges against them.
Dickson pleaded no contest to aggravated assault for a Feb. 5, 2012, shootout in the 200 block of Harding Court, where he used to live. He and a man who was never identified fired numerous shots at each other, according to York City Police, who collected 21 spent shell casings at the scene.
Dickson also pleaded no contest to simple assault for an Aug. 18, 2012, attack on a woman in the 300 block of East College Avenue.
Police said he attacked the woman because he thought she had spoken to police about him, hitting her in the face, knocking her to the ground and punching and kicking her.
The fourth no-contest plea was to a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle; in exchange, a carjacking charge was dropped.
Package deal: Chief deputy prosecutor David Maisch said he agreed to let Dickson plead no contest in the three cases if he pleaded guilty to Baxter's murder. Had the murder plea fallen through, the prosecution would have pulled the deals on the other three cases, he said.
Asked why Dickson pleaded no contest rather than guilty, Maisch said, "It was just Mr. Dickson trying to exert some level of control over the system. But the bottom line is, he got the 20 to 40 years."
First assistant public defender Clasina Houtman, who represented Dickson, said she agreed with Chantel Baxter.
"There are no winners here," Houtman said. "It's sad all around."
-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.