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Thread: Jessie L. Dotson - Tennessee Death Row

  1. #1
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    Jessie L. Dotson - Tennessee Death Row

    Jessie L. Dotson (right), Cecil Dotson and Hollis Seals; bottom left to right:
    Marissa Williams and Shindri Roberson

    A convicted killer recently released from prison was charged Saturday with fatally shooting his brother during an argument and then killing five witnesses, including two of his brother's children, police said.

    Three remaining children were critically wounded in the attack last Sunday, but one of them was able to tell investigators about their assailant, an arrest warrant affidavit said.

    Jessie L. Dotson, 33, was arrested on Friday — five days after the six bodies were discovered in a small rental house in a rough neighborhood called Binghampton. The affidavit said Dotson admitted to the killings.

    "He tried to kill everyone in the house. He thought everyone in the house was dead," police Lt. Joe Scott said.

    Dotson was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder, police said. Among those killed was Dotson's brother, Cecil, 30, who was the father of all the children, ages 9 to 2 months.

    Also killed were Hollis Seals, 33, Shindri Roberson, 25, and Marissa Rene Williams, 26, the mother of four of Cecil Dotson's children. Police identified the dead children as Cemario Dotson, 4, and Cecil Dotson, 2.

    The surviving children remain under police custody at a children's hospital, but police declined to reveal their identities or their conditions.

    One of the children "implicated Jessie Dotson as the person responsible," an arrest warrant affidavit said.

    Police said the bodies of the victims were discovered Monday. The adults were shot with a semiautomatic handgun, while the children were stabbed with a knife or bludgeoned, police said.

    The adults were found in the living room and the children were found in the two bedrooms of the residence and in the bathroom, Police Director Larry Godwin said.

    Police said the bodies were discovered after relatives were unable to make contact with them, either by phone or in person.

    Cecil Dotson and Seals each had extensive criminal records that include possession of illegal drugs and firearms. Cecil Dotson is identified in jail records as a known gang member.

    Godwin said investigators at first thought the killings might have been some kind of "gang-related retaliation."

    "I know the fear that gripped this community. I think we all felt it," Godwin said.

    Records also show that Jessie Dotson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1994 and spent 14 years in prison. He was released from prison in January. No other details were available.

    District Attorney General Bill Gibbons said his office has not yet decided if it will seek the death penalty.

    Jail records showed Dotson was not yet allowed visitors and no lawyer was listed for him. No court dates had been set.

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    The man accused of killing six people and wounding three in the horrific carnage at 722 Lester last week will be assigned a lawyer Tuesday morning who is experienced in defending death penalty cases.

    Jessie Dotson, 33, was charged Saturday with the murder of his brother, Cecil Dotson, and five other people inside the house. Two of the dead were children, and three other children were hospitalized.

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    Dotson, who is being held without bond, made an initial appearance in handcuffs before General Sessions Judge Ann Pugh with three bailiffs surrounding him.

    The suspect identified himself as a home remodeler, but said he was unable to pay for a lawyer.

    Because prosecutors could potentially ask for the death penalty, Pugh will appoint an attorney for Dotson who is qualified to try death penalty cases.

    Prosecutors Reginald Henderson and Ray Lepone said no decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty.

    The surviving victims at Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center are under police protection, as are other family members. Authorities declined to say who or how many family members are in protective custody.

    Though police have said it appears Dotson acted alone, investigators have 300 to 400 pieces of evidence to review.

    “Other things could come out and effect the case,” said Henderson, chief of the gang and narcotics unit of the District Attorney General’s Office.

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    The man accused in the Lester Street killings "is in good spirits for someone facing what he's facing," his attorney said Monday.

    Jessie Dotson, 33, made a brief appearance before General Sessions Criminal Court Judge Joyce Broffitt, who set a preliminary hearing date of April 30.

    If probable cause of Dotson's guilt is established, the case will advance to a grand jury.

    He is charged with killing six people last month on Lester Street, including his own brother and two of his nephews.

    The four adults were shot multiple times and the children were beaten and stabbed to death. Three other children survived.

    Police say Dotson admitted killing his brother following a longstanding dispute and then killing the others to cover up the crime.

    No one else has been charged.

    State prosecutors Reginald Henderson and Ray Lapone said evidence in the case still is being processed and would not comment on whether there are any other suspects in the killings that attracted national attention.

    "We feel confident with who we have," Henderson said, referring to Dotson. Prosecutors said they will decide later whether to seek the death penalty.

    Defense attorney Gerald Skahan said the case still has "a long way to go" and still is being investigated. "He's looking forward to his day in court," he said.

    He said Dotson is being kept in closely watched administrative segregation in the jail for his own safety. Dotson faces six counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder.

    The murder victims include Dotson's brother, Cecil Dotson, 30, and two of his nephews, Cemario Dotson, 4, and Cecil Dotson II, 2, both sons of Cecil. Also killed were Marissa Rene Williams, 27, the mother of Cemario, and the surviving children; Hollis Seals, 33; and Shindri Roberson, 22.

    The surviving children -- Ceniyah Dotson, 3 months, Cedric Dotson, 5, and Cecil Dotson Jr., 9 -- were hospitalized with critical injuries, but are "making progress," said attorney Valorie Smith, the children's court-appointed guardian ad litem.

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    The Shelby County District Attorney says he will pursue the death penalty against Jessie Dotson, the man accused in the murder of six people -- including two children -- in a home on Lester Street.

    The District Attorney's Office made the announcement after a grand jury indicted 33 year-old Dotson on six counts of first degree murder, three counts of attempted first degree murder and being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun, Thursday morning, December 4, 2008.

    According to authorities, four adults and two children were found dead inside a home in the 700 block of Lester Street in March 2008. Police say three other children, who were stabbed, were taken to the hospital in extremely critical condition. All six of the murder victims were either stabbed or shot to death.

    Jessie Dotson is accused of killing his brother, Cecil Dotson Sr., Marissa Williams, Hollis Seals, Shindri Roberson, Cecil Dotson II and Cemario Williams. Police say the children he is accused of stabbing were identified as Cecil Dotson Jr., Cedric Dotson and Ceniyah Dotson.

    According to investigators, one of the injured children, while still in the hospital, told detectives that his uncle Jessie Dotson stabbed him and committed the murders.

    The following statement was issued by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office:

    “In the case of Jesse Dotson, we have identified seven different factors which qualify him for the death penalty under our state law. That’s pretty extraordinary. The correct course of action is to give the jury in the trial of Jesse Dotson the option of imposing the death penalty,” said District Attorney Gibbons.

    The seven specific aggravating circumstances under state law include:

    The murders were committed against victims less than 12 years of age and the defendant was 18 or older;

    The defendant was previously convicted of one or more felonies involving use of violence (Jessie Dotson pleaded guilty to second degree murder on November 21, 1994 and was sentenced to 18 years in prison);

    The defendant knowingly created great risk of death to two or more persons, other than the victims murdered, during the act of murder;

    The murders were especially heinous, atrocious or cruel in that they involved torture or serious physical abuse beyond necessary to produce death;

    The murders were committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with or preventing a lawful arrest or prosecution of the defendant;

    The murders were knowingly committed by the defendant while he had a substantial role in committing the other crimes (attempted murders);

    The defendant committed “mass murder,” which is defined as the murder of three or more persons.

    First degree murder is a charged covered by the D.A.’s “No Deals” policy on violent crimes. Exceptions are made to the policy for legal or ethical reasons. First degree murder is punishable by life in prison with the possibility of parole after 51 years, life in prison without parole, or death.

    (Source: Eyewitness News Memphis)

  6. #6
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    Lester Street Massacre: The Untold Story

    MEMPHIS, TN - It has been almost two months since the deaths of six people in a house on Lester Street in Memphis. Now, one little girl who survived the attack speaks with Eyewitness News Everywhere.

    This is the first time any of Cecil Dotson’s children have gone on the record since the day of the murders in the Binghampton neighborhood of Memphis.

    722 Lester Street… To most people it is home to the worst mass murder in the history of Memphis, but to Cierra Dotson, it is just "home".

    “We used to have a lot of fun. We ride our bikes, we go walk to the park,” said 13 year-old Cierra Dotson.

    But that ended on March 2, 2008, the day her father, his girlfriend, two of their friends, and two of Cierra’s siblings were murdered. It was also the day Cierra turned 13.

    Cierra said, “we were trying to call him (Cecil), cause we were supposed to do something for my birthday and we couldn’t get in touch with him.”

    The last time Cierra Dotson saw her father was two days earlier, Friday, February 29. She left the home to go to school, but later in the day she had a panic attack and was taken to the hospital. Her father picked her up and took her to her mother’s home for the weekend. It was a weekend visit that saved the little girl’s life.

    Cierra does not read too much into what happened. She is a happy girl who likes school and gets excited when she is asked about her brothers and sister. Cierra laughed while saying, “one of them’s name is Cemarrio, he was four. One of them was ‘Man-Man’, he was two. And the newborn baby, Cemiyah, is four months. And my brother, CJ, is 10 and my other brother, Cedric, is six.”

    As easily as she rattles off their names, Cierra remembers everything about the time she had with her father, Cecil Dotson. “We used to go out to eat, we used to play, talk about father and daughter day and he used to take me somewhere and we go outside and shoot the BB gun,” said Cierra.

    Cierra says her father’s girlfriend, Marissa Williams, was like a second mother to her and a friend. “I liked her because she would come and get me when school was out. And if I call home sick, she would come up there and get me and we’ll buy a drink or some medicine and we’ll come home and talk or watch movies and go to sleep,” said Cierra.

    Since the man accused of the murders, Jessie Dotson (the children’s uncle), was released from prison last August, Cierra and the children spent a lot of time around him. “We go the skating rink before we go out to eat and he would skate with us,” remembered Cierra.

    But, according to police, the man who gave her hours of joy; would bring her a lifetime of pain.

    “I didn’t believe it… Because I don’t think he would do that,” said Cierra when asked about her uncle Jessie Dotson.

    While she doesn’t believe her own uncle killed her family, Cierra admits she saw another side of Jessie. She said, “they got into it that day over a jacket and uncle Jessie told my dad he gon' kill him, so my dad put him out the house and my dad called police. I ran to the back and locked my door… Cemarrio ran back to my room. He was beating on my door talking bout ‘Cierra let me in, I’m scared too.’ He was crying, I let him in. The other ones went to their room.”

    But the day police say Jessie shot her family, Cierra was not able to help. She says she wants her siblings to know, even though they no longer live in the same house: “Their daddy’s gone, but they still got me.”


  7. #7
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    Accused Lester Street Murderer Jessie Dotson's Attorney wants trial moved

    The man accused of the 2008 massacre at a Binghampton home, faced a judge today.

    Jessie Dotson faces the death penalty for killing six people, including two children. The massacre happened in March of 2008 at Dotson's brothers house on Lester Street.

    Jessie Dotson's attorneys filed several motions hoping to get his trial moved out of Shelby County. His attorney Marty Mcaffee says he has never seen a case get so much attention and he wants the trial moved out of Tennessee.

    Mcaffee says, “Well, because of you all, because there's been so much attention to this, it bares watching whether a fair trial can be had in this county.”

    He says the newspaper has written 50 articles and they've counted 1,200 TV stories done since the 2008 killing.

    Ray Lepone, an attorney for the state says he think it's absurd to think they can't find 12 jurors without a predetermined opinion.

    Lepone says, “I think they can be fair and impartial, and hold the state to its burden, and expect some proof and not just rush to judgment based on a news story. I think that's not being fair to the people of Shelby County.”

    Both sides are still waiting on the FBI to complete its investigation. FBI agents are waiting for DNA samples to come back.

    Lepone says, “There's just a few outstanding pieces of evidence that they're testing, of course the defense is entitled to those results as soon as they come in.”

    The judge says he'll have a decision on the change of venue by April 1st. Originally, Dotson's trial date was set for June. But, the judge says since he needs some time to think about this matter, it's now set for September 20th.


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    April 27, 2010

    Lester Street mass-murder case to be heard in Memphis by Nashville jury

    In a first for Shelby County, a jury from another county will be selected to hear the mass-murder trial of a Memphis man charged with killing six people on Lester Street in 2008, a judge ruled Tuesday.

    Noting that there have been thousands of print and electronic news reports on the case against Jessie Dotson, Criminal Court Judge James Beasley Jr. partially granted the defense request for a change of venue and agreed the jury should be chosen in Davidson County.

    Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga all have gone to other counties, including Shelby, for juries to hear high-publicity cases, but Shelby County Jury Commissioner Clyde "Kit" Carson said that has never been done here in the past.

    Jury selection in the Dotson case is expected to take about a week, beginning on Sept. 20, and jurors will be brought to Memphis where they will be housed during the trial, which is expected to last about three weeks.

    Prosecutors had argued that a Shelby County jury could be fair and impartial despite the widespread publicity.

    Beasley made his decision after two-page questionnaires were submitted to Shelby County jury sample pools to gauge their knowledge of the case, to determine what opinions they may have formed about the defendant's guilt and to see whether they could set aside those opinions.

    Based on the results of the survey of jurors, who were told they would not be serving on the case, Beasley was persuaded to select jurors elsewhere.

    The judge said he carefully weighed 17 factors outlined in the law that are to be considered in such change-of-venue requests and that most of them pointed to picking an untainted jury from another jurisdiction where he said media exposure has been minimal.

    He noted that an important factor in his decision was the number of people who had seen the A&E program "The First 48," which documented the police investigation and included comments by officers and Dotson's confession.

    "A substantial amount of potential jurors mentioned the defendant's confession and/or the eyewitness identification," Beasley said, adding that the case continues to generate news reports and background on Dotson. "Given the breadth of the coverage thus far and the likelihood that additional coverage will continue to occur, this court finds this factor weighs in favor of granting defendant's request."

    Dotson, 35, was convicted of second-degree murder in 1994 and had been paroled just weeks before the killings in March 2008 at 722 Lester, off Summer in North Memphis.

    He told authorities that he killed his brother during an argument and then began trying to eliminate witnesses, including three other adults and two children. Three other children were critically injured but survived.

    Dotson faces the death penalty if convicted.

    The four adult victims — Cecil Dotson, 30, Marissa Rene Williams, 27, Hollis Seals, 33, and Shindri Roberson, 22 — each were shot multiple times.

    The two child victims — Cemario Dotson, 4, and Cecil Dotson II, 2, both sons of Cecil — were stabbed and beaten to death. They were nephews of Jessie Dotson.

    The survivors, all of whom were stabbed, are Ceniyah Dotson, 4 months at the time of the attack, Cedric Dotson, 5, and Cecil Dotson Jr., 9.

    The case was the worst mass-killing incident in Memphis in decades.

    In January 1983, Memphis police officer Robert S. Hester was taken hostage on Shannon Street by religious cult leader Lindbergh Sanders and a group of followers. After a 30-hour standoff, during which Hester was beaten to death, police stormed the house, killing Sanders and six followers, for a total death toll of eight.

    And on May 22, 1973, David Sanders, 28, who had a history of mental problems, randomly shot and killed five people — including a Memphis police officer — as he walked down Kansas Street. He was later killed by police after refusing to drop his weapon.

    Jurors chosen from Shelby County have twice been called upon to hear high-publicity cases in other jurisdictions:

    In 1996, Shelby County jurors were taken to Nashville where they convicted a drunken motorist, Ralph Claypole, of vehicular homicide for killing 31-year-old Amy Hull Randsdell, the daughter of a federal judge.

    In 1999, a Shelby County jury sitting in Clarksville convicted Paul Dennis Reid of two counts of capital murder in the deaths of two Baskin-Robbins employees.


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    June 16, 2010

    Judge wont ban color photos in Lester Street murder trial

    A judge Wednesday denied a defense request to ban prosecutors' use of color photographs in the capital murder trial of a Memphis man charged with killing four adults and two children on Lester Street in 2008.

    Criminal Court Judge James Beasley Jr. said he will review color or black-and-white photographs for their relevance in the trial of Jessie Dotson, but refused to issue any blanket order banning color photos from the crime scene that defense attorneys said might be offensive to jurors and prejudicial to their client.

    Dotson, 35, is accused of killing his brother during an argument in March 2008 at 722 Lester and then eliminating witnesses, including three other adults and two children.

    He also is charged with attempting to kill three other children who were critically injured.

    The capital murder trial is set for September in Memphis after a jury is brought in from Nashville/Davidson County.

    The color photo issue is among several dozen raised by defense attorneys Gerald Skahan and Marty McAfee.

    Beasley granted a motion to prohibit references to the first phase of the trial as "the guilt phase," and told attorneys to refer to it as "the trial phase."

    In capital murder cases, a defendant's guilt or innocence is determined by the jury in what is commonly called the guilt phase, which is then followed by a second hearing called the sentencing phase.

    The judge said he will issue a written ruling on the motions at a hearing next month.

    Prosecutors Ray Lepone and Reginald Henderson are seeking the death penalty for Dotson.

    The four adult victims -- Cecil Dotson, 30; Marissa Rene Williams, 27; Hollis Seals, 33; and Shindri Roberson, 22 -- each were shot multiple times.

    The two child victims -- Cemario Dotson, 4, and Cecil Dotson II, 2, both sons of Cecil -- were stabbed and beaten to death. They were nephews of Jessie Dotson.

    The survivors, all of whom were stabbed, are Ceniyah Dotson, 4 months at the time of the attack, Cedric Dotson, 5, and Cecil Dotson Jr., 9.


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    July 6, 2010

    Judge disallows taped confession in slayings case

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A judge says he won't allow a videotaped confession that aired on the crime reality show "The First 48" to be used at the trial of a Memphis man accused of killing six people.

    Judge James Beasley said Tuesday he disallowed the confession widely seen on the A&E program because other information may have been recorded but not aired that's relevant to the case of Jessie Dotson.

    Dotson, 35, is awaiting trial in September on six counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. Three children survived the March 2008 Memphis house slayings. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

    Dotson's case garnered national attention in part over his appearance on "The First 48," which recorded the police investigation and aired a confession from Dotson.


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