Memphis boy testifies his uncle killed six
Posted: Thursday, October 7, 2010 8:01 pm
By ADRIAN SAINZ
Associated Press Writer
MEMPHIS (AP) — An 11-year-old called the hero of one of Memphis’ worst mass slayings described for a jury Wednesday the knife and gun assault that killed six people, including his parents, and the boy fingered his “Uncle Junior” as the attacker.
The boy was stabbed in his neck and head during the March 2008 massacre, and left to die in a bathtub with the 4 1/2-inch blade still embedded in his skull.
When prosecutor Reggie Henderson asked where the man was who stabbed him, the boy pointed to his uncle and defendant Jessie Dotson and softly said, “Right there.”
Dotson, 35, has pleaded not guilty to six first-degree murder charges and three counts of attempted first-degree murder. The boy’s parents and their two adult friends were shot to death while his 2-year-old and 4-year-old brothers were fatally stabbed. The only survivors were the boy and two other siblings who were stabbed, a 2-month old girl and a 5-year-old.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Police Lt. Rick Davidson, who coordinated the homicide investigation, testified the boy is “like the hero of this entire Lester Street case” because he identified the attacker.
Prosecutors said Dotson got into an argument with his brother — the boy’s father, Cecil Dotson — and shot him, then tried to kill potential witnesses. Authorities said Dotson, who served prison time for murder and was released about seven months before the killings, confessed to police and to his mother days after the bodies were found.
Defense attorneys contend the massacre was done by angry gang members and that the boy’s testimony is unreliable because of inconsistencies and the trauma he suffered. Scars are visible on the front and side of his head.
The jury selected from Nashville because of intense local news coverage of the case has seen more than 250 pieces of evidence, including graphic photos of the victims and bloody walls, floors and furniture.
The boy, wearing a red shirt, tie, dark pants and vest, testified that he was watching TV in his sister’s room when he heard gunshots. He then saw his uncle pointing a gun at his father.
“I saw sparks and smoke come out of the gun,” the boy said.
The boy testified he saw a man on the floor and an injured woman sitting on the arm of a couch as Dotson kept shooting.
When the boy tried to call the police, he said, he was accosted by his uncle.
“He said he was going to kill you like he did your daddy and his friends?” prosecutor Henderson asked.
“Yes sir,” the boy responded.
The boy said he asked to go to the bathroom and his uncle then stabbed him in the head.
The boy ended up in the tub, where he could hear people yelling.
“My mother was last,” the boy said. “Uncle Junior was asking about my father’s phone and keys. My mother was saying she didn’t want to die.”
“Who was with your Uncle Junior when he was doing all this?” the prosecutor said.
“Nobody,” the boy said.
The bodies were discovered a day later and the surviving children were rushed to the hospital.
During the investigation, the boy gave an initial statement from his hospital bed that mentioned a person or people named “Roger” and “Roderick.” It was a few days later when the boy told investigators his attacker was “Uncle Junior.”
Defense attorney Marty McAfee asked if he saw his aunt Cassandra knock on the door of the house and if a man with a bloody mask named Roderick follow her inside.
“Yes sir,” the boy said.
The boy then acknowledged he heard Roderick — who was in a gang — and his father arguing, then some shooting. A former gang member has testified that the boy’s father had a falling out with members of the “Gangster Disciples.”
“There was a fight in that living room between that man and your daddy?” McAfee asked.
“Yes sir,” the boy said.
Published in The Messenger 10.07.10