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Man convicted of murdering 6 in Memphis

Jessie Dotson blamed gang members for the attack. Jessie Dotson blamed gang members for the attack.
Associated Press / October 12, 2010

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MEMPHIS — Jurors took less than two hours yesterday to convict a man of murdering his brother and five others, including two children, 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. The jury now will decide whether he should be executed by injection.

Jurors concluded that Dotson shot and killed his brother, Cecil, 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-inch knife blade embedded in his skull. He was a key prosecution witness against his uncle.

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

Jessie Dotson, in his testimony, blamed gang members for the attack. 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.

The trial has provided a glimpse into the world of Memphis gangs, with explanations of hierarchies and discussions of death violations — actions that result in killing as punishment. More than 460 exhibits were entered into the record, including crime scene photos.

Experienced police officers have testified that the crime scene was the most gruesome they have seen.

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