MEMPHIS, TN -- 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.