Jessie Dotson Found Guilty of Memphis Mass Murder, Could Get Death Sentence

Jessie Dotson (Memphis Police Department)
Jessie Dotson Found Guilty of Memphis Mass Murder, Could Face Death Penalty
Jessie Dotson (Memphis Police Department)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CBS/AP) After listening to more than two weeks of emotionally grueling testimony, it was the personal account of an 11-year-old victim that helped prosecutors convince a Tennessee jury that his uncle was guilty of six murders in one of  Memphis' worst mass slayings, a prosecutor in the case said.

Jessie Dotson shot his brother in the head during a 2008 argument and, attempting to eliminate all witnesses, killed five other people including two of his young nephews. He then stabbed three more boys who survived after waiting in agony for some 40 hours until help arrived, prosecutors said.

Two years later, two of the boys who survived the bloody Memphis rampage pointed to their "Uncle Junior" as the man who fatally shot their father and mercilessly left them for dead.

One of the survivors, 11-year-old Cecil Dotson Jr., known as CJ, was found in a bathtub wit a 4 1/2 -inch knife blade lodged in his skull.

"CJ solved it," said prosecutor Ray Lepone. "He had the courage to come in here and point out his uncle."

The boy, his 8-year-old brother Cedric Dotson and Jessie Dotson's mother were key prosecution witnesses.

In less than two hours, jurors convicted 35-year-old Dotson.

The penalty phase of the trial begins Tuesday when the same jury who convicted the mass murderer will decide whether he should be sentenced to death by injection.

In his testimony Jessie Dotson claimed gang members were responsible for the horrid attack, but jurors concluded that it was in fact Dotson who committed the crimes. Authorities say that after a day of drinking, Jessie Dotson shot and killed his brother Cecil Dotson in the early morning hours of March 2, 2008. He then went after everyone else in the house with two guns, boards and several knives.

Cecil Dotson's girlfriend, Marissa Williams, 4-year-old Cemario Dotson, 2-year-old Cecil Dotson II, and friends Hollis Seals and Shindri Roberson were also killed.

The young boy, who was 9 years old when the attack occurred, told jurors in his testimony that he went to call for police and tried to fight off his uncle before ending up in the bathtub with a kitchen knife embedded in his head. Paramedics testified they thought he was dead until he started to twitch.

According to authorities, Dotson, who was released from prison about seven months before the killings for a previous murder conviction, fled from the house by riding off on a child's bicycle.

The jury was selected in Nashville because of intense local coverage of the case.