Man guilty of 6 murder counts in Memphis rampage

Man guilty of 6 murder counts in Memphis rampage

Published October 11, 2010

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Jurors took less than two hours Monday to convict a man of murdering his brother and five others, including two young nephews, in a bloody rampage in a Memphis home two years ago.

Jessie Dotson, 35, faces the death penalty for one of the city's worst mass slayings. He showed no emotion, looking straight ahead as the verdict was announced.

Jurors concluded that Dotson shot and killed his brother, Cecil Dotson, during a 2008 argument and then went after everyone else in the house with his gun and a knife to eliminate witnesses.

Three other children were stabbed but survived. One of them, Cecil Dotson Jr., now 11, was found in a bathtub with a 4 1/2-inch knife blade embedded in his skull. He was a key prosecution witness against his uncle.

Also killed were 4-year-old Cemario Dotson and 2-year-old Cecil Dotson Jr. II; Cecil Dotson's girlfriend, Marissa Williams; and friends Hollis Seals and Shindri Robinson.

Defense attorney Gerald Skahan said his client wasn't happy with the verdict, but understood it, as did the defense team. The defense was disappointed in the speed of the jury, said attorney Marty McAfee.

"I don't see how they could have looked at everything in that time," McAfee said. "They might have been thinking about as it was being put forward. Everyone in town expected this to be a whipping. Instead it was a fist fight."

Jessie Dotson, in his testimony, blamed the attack on gang members. He said he was at the house on Lester Street, a poor and crime-ridden part of Memphis, and hid under a bed during the slayings. He said he didn't report them to police because he feared for his life.

However, prosecutors put Dotson Jr. - who was 9 at the time of the attack - on the stand last week. He testified that "Uncle Junior" shot his father and then attacked him with a knife. Another survivor, 8-year-old Cedric Dotson, also testified against his uncle.

"CJ solved it," said prosecutor Ray Lepone, who said the family was pleased with the verdict. "He had the courage to come in here and point out his uncle."

He praised the police work and both boys who testified. No media access was given to the family after the verdict.

The trial has provided a glimpse into the world of Memphis gangs, with explanations of gang hierarchies and discussions of death violations - actions that result in killing as punishment.

More than 460 exhibits were entered into the record, including knife blades, bullet casings, and grisly color photos that show the bodies and blood-soaked walls, furniture and carpets. Experienced police officers who have testified have said the March 2, 2008, attack left a crime scene that was the most gruesome they've seen.

It was a day later before police were called and found Dotson Jr. in the bathtub. While he was recovering at the hospital he first told police a man named Roger or Roderick attacked his family. He later told officers it was Uncle Junior, the family's name for Jessie Dotson.

The jury was selected in Nashville because of intense local news coverage of the case, and jurors heard more than two weeks' worth of emotionally grueling testimony.

The jury now will decide beginning Tuesday if Dotson should be sentenced to death by injection.

Authorities said Dotson, who served prison time for murder and was released about seven months before the killings, escaped from the house by riding off on a child's bicycle. They introduced a confession to police and said he also confessed to his mother days after the bodies were found.

Dotson threatened suicide as the investigation progressed, saying, "They're going to put this on me," according to testimony.

Jessie Dotson's defense contended the massacre was done by gang members who were angry at Cecil Dotson and were seeking to punish him for telling police that one of his fellow "Gangster Disciples" had drugs in the apartment where he was staying. ,0206

Written by <P class="ap-story-p">By ADRIAN SAINZ, Associated Press Writer</P>


Latest in news