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Thread: Brian Joseph Dorsey - Missouri Death Row

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    Brian Joseph Dorsey - Missouri Death Row


    Ben and Sarah Bonnie




    Summary of Offense:

    A Jefferson City man was sentenced to death in February 2008 for the Christmastime 2006 slaying of his cousin and her husband in Callaway County. Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton ordered the death penalty in a sentencing hearing for Brian Dorsey. A Boone County jury recommended death sentences for Dorsey in the December 23, 2006, slayings of Ben and Sarah Bonnie in their New Bloomfield home. Dorsey already had pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the case. The two-day trial held in Boone County on a change of venue was for the jury to decide the punishment recommendation: death or life imprisonment without parole.

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    November 11, 2008

    Murderer sentenced to death----New Bloomfield couple slain in '06

    A Jefferson City man was sentenced to death yesterday for the Christmastime 2006 slaying of his cousin and her husband in Callaway County.

    Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton ordered the death penalty in a sentencing hearing for Brian Dorsey, 26.

    A Boone County jury recommended death sentences for Dorsey in the Dec. 23, 2006, slayings of Ben and Sarah Bonnie in their New Bloomfield home. Dorsey already had pleaded guilty to 2 counts of 1st-degree murder in the case. The 2-day trial held in Boone County on a change of venue was for the jury to decide the punishment recommendation: death or life imprisonment without parole.

    In a victim impact statement, Greg Bonnie told the court he was not sure whether he wanted to seek justice or revenge for the death of his son, Ben, and daughter-in-law.

    "What I do know is the devastation and pain to my family," Greg Bonnie testified.

    According to evidence in the trial, the couple had driven Dorsey, a cousin to Sarah Bonnie, to a Christmas gathering at the home to escape an argument he was having with people over money he owed them for crack cocaine at his Jefferson City apartment.

    Dorsey had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse and had been on a binge of crack cocaine and alcohol before the slayings. He, Ben Bonnie and another man spent the night playing pool in a garage before the couple retired to their bedroom.

    Dorsey entered the bedroom and shot them each once in the head with Ben Bonnie’s shotgun. The couple’s 4-year-old daughter was not injured.

    Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Sterner said aggravating circumstances included evidence that Dorsey had raped Sarah Bonnie and that Dorsey ransacked the home, stealing household items and Sarah Bonnie's car.

    "Those were the facts that called for the consideration of the death penalty," Sterner said after yesterday’s hearing.

    Defense attorney Chris Slusher said the defense was disappointed with the punishment ordered.

    Relatives of Dorsey declined comment as they left the courtroom, many of them crying.

    Under state law, Dorsey's sentence will automatically be appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.

    (Source: The Columbia Tribune)

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    July 16, 2010

    Missouri Supreme Court upholds death sentences

    The state Supreme Court has upheld 2 death sentences given to a central Missouri man who admitted to killing his cousin and her husband in Callaway County.

    Brian Dorsey was sentenced to death in 2008 for the killings of Sarah and Ben Bonnie on Christmas Eve at their home in New Bloomfield. Evidence suggested that Sarah Bonnie was raped and that her body was doused with bleach. Dorsey, of Jefferson City, pleaded guilty to shooting the couple with a shotgun.

    Dorsey's attorney had argued that he should not be executed but sentenced to a life prison term. The Missouri Supreme Court voted 7-0 to uphold both death sentences.

    (Source: The Associated Press)

  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Certiorari DENIED in today's United States Supreme Court orders.

    DORSEY v MISSOURI

    10-6563

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    Attorney for death row inmate focuses on DNA evidence

    Arguing for a stay of execution before the Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday, the attorney for death row inmate Brian Dorsey questioned whether DNA evidence presented at Dorsey’s sentencing hearing can conclusively show that Dorsey raped his cousin Sarah Bonnie on the night she was killed in 2006.

    Dorsey pleaded guilty in 2008 to fatally shooting Bonnie and her husband, Ben, on Dec. 23, 2006, in their New Bloomfield home. The state argued at Dorsey’s sentencing trial, conducted in Boone County Circuit Court, that certain aggravating factors, including that Sarah Bonnie had been raped before her death and that bleach was poured on her to cover it up, supported the state seeking the death penalty.

    Dorsey was given two death sentences, which were upheld in January 2010 in a 7-0 vote by the state Supreme Court.

    DNA evidence that pointed to another suspect in the rape was not disclosed to his defense at the time, Dorsey’s attorney, Kent Denzel, argued Wednesday during the post-conviction relief hearing in front of the state’s highest court. Because of that, Denzel said, Dorsey could not defend himself against the possibility of a death sentence.

    Denzel also said that had Dorsey, now 41, known of the DNA, he wouldn’t have pleaded guilty to the double murder. In not disclosing possibly exculpatory evidence during the discovery process before Dorsey pleaded guilty, the state violated federal law, established in the precedent-setting Brady v. Maryland case from the 1960s, Denzel said.

    “Whether it’s treated as a Brady or failure to investigate, the point is there was exculpatory evidence not presented to the jury,” Denzel told the court Wednesday.

    In the brief filed in support of his case, Denzel also alleged that Dorsey’s trial lawyer was ineffective by not thoroughly investigating Dorsey’s mental health and history of substance abuse.

    Missouri Assistant Attorney General Shaun Mackelprang on Wednesday said there was no indication throughout any of the court proceedings that the DNA evidence would have changed Dorsey’s decision to plead guilty and, if anything, Dorsey didn’t want it to go in front of a jury. He said it wasn’t until the DNA test came back that Dorsey decided to plead guilty.

    “They know they did not have a good case, the state has a pretty good case and if there was one part of this case to downplay at all costs, it’s the rape,” Mackelprang said.

    Four aggravating factors were presented by the state during the sentencing trial, and two were found to be proven: that Sarah Bonnie was raped and there was an attempt to cover it up.

    Two DNA profiles were developed from samples via vaginal swabs after Sarah Bonnie was killed, one that came back with a full profile that only matched her and a Y chromosome profile. Sperm cells were detected in the swabs, but Denzel said chromosomal profile could not be proven to have been determined from the sperm cells, nor was the sperm tested. Two alleles in its sequence were of importance to the defense: one consistent with her husband’s DNA and the other consistent with Dorsey’s, Denzel said.

    Y chromosomal matches aren’t as specific as a full DNA profile and in this case there were at least four other matches in the Y profile other than Dorsey, all were in line with his paternal lineage.

    Mackelprang said the DNA evidence wasn’t disclosed because it was not seen as exculpatory and therefore would have no effect on the case. He said the state upheld its obligation to disclose evidence and had the sperm been tested, it would have shown that Sarah and Ben Bonnie did not have sex that night and it would have been matched to Dorsey.

    “In this case, all the evidence came out in post-conviction hearing, but nothing to discount the fact that the Y chromosome DNA in this case was only consistent with Mr. Dorsey and not any of the other males who were in the home the night of the murder,” Mackelprang said.

    Denzel disputed evidence that Sarah Bonnie was raped, saying that it is possible the match for Dorsey could have come from incidental transference of DNA during the night that preceded her death. Mackelprang said aside from the DNA and the evidence that a rape was covered up, there weren’t other indications that she was sexually assaulted, including injuries to her genital area.

    Sarah Bonnie was found to have had liquid poured on her stomach and thighs post-mortem that was believed to be bleach. Denzel refuted that claim because he said it wasn’t tested conclusively and there was no bleach found in the area where her body was discovered, though there was bleach in the house and a strong odor of the chemical was present at the scene.

    “This is junk science,” Denzel said. “There is no evidence of cover up. … The state did not prove that there was bleach poured.”

    It was obvious there was something poured over Sarah Bonnie’s body to cover up a crime, Mackelprang said, and evidence showed that it was done after she had been killed.

    http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/...comments=focus
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  6. #6
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    Death sentences affirmed in 2006 New Bloomfield murders

    For the second time in five years, Missouri’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentences Brian Joseph Dorsey received for the 2006 murders of his cousin and her husband.

    His first appeal had argued his sentences should have been life in prison, without parole.

    The court’s Wednesday ruling on Dorsey’s second appeal rejected several complaints for ineffective counsel during the original case.

    Dorsey, now 42, a former Jefferson City resident, pleaded guilty in March 2008 to the December 2006 murders of Sarah Bonnie, 25, and her husband, Benjamin Bonnie, 28, while they were sleeping in their home west of New Bloomfield.

    The couple’s bodies were found Dec. 24, 2006, by Sarah’s parents, after the couple failed to attend a family holiday gathering. The couple’s 4-year-old daughter was in the home but wasn’t harmed; she was watching TV when her grandparents came to the home and told them that Sarah and Ben had not come out of the bedroom all day.

    Authorities reported Sarah was killed first, then Ben, and that both victims had been killed with a single shotgun blast to the head. They said Sarah had been raped after the shootings, and that bleach had been poured on her body in an attempt to cover up or destroy evidence.

    A number of items were taken from the house, including Sarah’s car shortly after Dorsey had turned himself in to the Callaway County Sheriff’s office, saying he was “the right guy” concerning the Bonnies’ deaths.

    After Dorsey pleaded guilty in March 2008, Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton conducted a sentencing trial and the jury recommended a death sentence for each murder.

    In July 2010, the seven-judge Supreme Court upheld the death sentences in a 21-page ruling, saying Hamilton had not made any mistakes that would cause the death sentences to be replaced with a life-without-parole sentence.

    The court’s unanimous opinion Wednesday took 40 pages to explain why it rejected each of Dorsey’s eight legal complaints.

    The complaints included: the state failed to inform his lawyers of certain DNA evidence and that other people had similar DNA profiles, his trial attorneys didn’t do a proper pre-trial investigation that would have shown them Dorsey didn’t rape Sarah and that he was suffering from mental illness when the Bonnies were killed.

    He also argued his attorneys didn’t present enough witnesses on his behalf and didn’t object enough to the state’s evidence.

    Dorsey is being held on death row at the Potosi Correctional Center, Mineral Point. No dates have been set for his execution.

    http://www.fultonsun.com/news/2014/n...omfield-murde/

  7. #7
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    On January 8, 2015, Dorsey filed a habeas petition in Federal District Court.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/mis...cv08000/119597

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    Admitted killer asks Missouri Supreme Court to toss death sentence

    Sentenced to death by a Boone County jury in 2008 for a double murder in Callaway County, Brian J. Dorsey now claims an error in jury instructions, based on recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent, resulted in an unconstitutional verdict that condemned him to die.

    Jurors in the penalty phase were not instructed to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstances of the crime outweighed the mitigating evidence, according to a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed Wednesday with the Missouri Supreme Court. The jury did not determine beyond a reasonable doubt each fact necessary in order to lawfully sentence someone to death, according to the petition.

    The petition asks for the court to vacate Dorsey’s death sentence and send the case back to Boone County Circuit Court for another sentencing trial. Courts can issue what is called a writ of habeas corpus for a convicted person when it finds that their conviction or sentence violates the laws or constitution of the U.S. or state.

    It is necessary for a jury to make a determination whether aggravating circumstances, those that support a stiff penalty, outweigh mitigating circumstances, which would support leniency, when deciding whether to impose a death sentence, Rebecca Woodman, Dorsey’s lawyer, wrote in the petition. Woodman cites several cases, decided in Missouri’s highest court and the U.S. Supreme Court, as precedent for the unconstitutionality of his sentence. The Missouri Supreme Court has retroactively applied decisions it has made in cases similar to Dorsey’s “where a jury failed to find the facts necessary to impose a given sentence.”

    Dorsey, 45, used a shotgun to kill his cousin and her husband, Sarah and Ben Bonnie, as they slept in their New Bloomfield home on the night of Dec. 23, 2006. He then raped his cousin’s body and poured bleach over her torso and genitals before stealing cash, her car and some property to sell off so he could pay his drug debts. Sarah Bonnie’s parents found their bodies the next day and Dorsey turned himself in on Dec. 26, 2006.

    He took his case to the Missouri Supreme Court before in an attempt to get his guilty plea and death sentence overturned, but the court, in a unanimous decision by all seven judges, denied his appeal. Dorsey in 2013 alleged that the state had withheld DNA evidence from his defense and his counsel was ineffective.

    Woodman did not respond to a message seeking comment. Loree Ann Paradise, spokeswoman for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, which represents the state in criminal appeals, declined to comment.

    Dorsey, the last person a Boone County jury sentenced to death, is among 24 men on death row in the Missouri Department of Corrections and is currently incarcerated at Potosi Correctional Center. Including Dorsey, four men are on death row via Boone County sentences, according to data a department of corrections spokesman provided.

    Among the cases Woodman cites that she claims apply to Dorsey’s are U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Hurst v. Florida and Ring v. Arizona. Those cases, which were similar, found that the capital-sentencing protocols, first in Arizona in a 2002 decision and then in Florida in 2016, were unconstitutional because judges determined whether defendants deserved the death penalty. The decisions set precedent that only a jury can sentence someone to death. The Hurst decision was made in light of the court’s decision in the Ring case.

    http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/...death-sentence
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  9. #9
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    In today's United States Supreme Court orders, Dorsey's petition for writ of certiorari was DENIED.

    Lower Ct: Supreme Court of Missouri
    Case Numbers: (SC96440)
    Decision Date: June 27, 2017

    https://www.supremecourt.gov/search....c/17-6162.html

  10. #10
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    On September 27, 2019, Dorsey's habeas petition was DENIED in Federal District Court.

    https://docs.justia.com/cases/federa...000/119597/104
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