October 12th, 2010
10:24 PM ET

Tennessee man gets death sentence for mass murder

A Tennessee jury sentenced to death on Tuesday a convicted killer responsible for what has been called the worst mass murder in the history of Memphis.

The jury took less than two hours to sentence Jessie Dotson to death on six counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder for the brutal deaths of several relatives, including his brother and toddler nephews.

Dotson had just served 14 years in prison for second-degree murder when he shot his brother, Cecil Dotson, in an early-morning fight in February 2008, according to testimony.

He told police and his mother that he killed everyone else in his brother's home to eliminate witnesses, including Cecil Dotson's girlfriend, Marissa Williams, 27, Hollis Seals, 33, and his girlfriend, Shindri Roberson, 22.

His two nephews, Cemario Dotson, 4, and Cecil Dotson II, 2, were beaten and stabbed to death.

The victims were left in the home for nearly two days before their bodies were found. Three survivors were found, including Cecil "CJ" Dotson Jr., now 11, and his brother, Cedric Dotson, now 8, who testified that their "Uncle Junior," was responsible for the attacks.

CJ was found with a knife sticking from his head. The other survivor was 2-month-old Ceniyah Dotson, who also sustained multiple stab wounds.

Memphis Police Sgt. Tony Mullins testified that the "horrific" scene at the house was the most brutal he'd ever witnessed in his long career.

Taking the stand in his defense, Dotson said he had been coerced into making the confession, and that he hid under a bed in the home during the slayings. The slayings were initially investigated as a gang hit until the survivors identified their uncle.

The case made national headlines after it appeared on the A&E series, The First 48. The jury for the highly publicized case was selected in Nashville and brought to Memphis.

More coverage from CNN affiliate WREG

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Filed under: Crime • Death Penalty • Tennessee
soundoff (115 Responses)
  1. wilson

    It took 2 years to convict and it will take another 15-20 to execute. That is just sick when you think about how guilty he is.

    October 13, 2010 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. Yvonne

    Go, Marcos, Love your Espanol, it is so sensual. For the murderer, he needs to be axed as soon as possible, without having all the supendous appeals.

    You murderer, people like you do not deserve any appeals, meals and all the other freebees, only pain and suffering at the time of your DEATH!!

    Enough is enough, death to all the hard criminals!!

    October 13, 2010 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      It's not Spanish BTW, it's Portuguese

      October 13, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. Help

    Hey guys, will you visit SaveStan.ORG a friend of mine with 4 young babies is fighting for his life...... Thanks

    October 13, 2010 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. ray

    I believe that it should be an eye for an eye in all the. Horrible crap that goes on in this country theese politicains and humanitarians suck

    October 13, 2010 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      Well, then you should move to Iran or Saudi Arabia. You don't belong in a democracy which emphasizes human rights

      October 13, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jim Brieske

    TW. A bit excessive? A off chance he may be innocent?
    If you saw live video of what he did to his victims (as the crime evidence somewhat provides by recreating a mental picture of his crimes) then your writing a bit excessive is absurd. In fact, some Mao torture could be thrown in but I'm just saying get him to God and do it fast. He's seen the video, but by using a much more advanced technology.
    A failure to do so by saying there is an off chance he may be innocent is saying you do not believe in God. Because God will sort it simply by sending the wrongly executed person to Heaven. This man is guilty so that does not apply.
    In 99.9% those convicted of murder are guilty. So because of that tenth of a percent incorrect verdict, murderers are allowed to live in prison for 20 or 30 years instead of being publicly executed the next day surrounded by clowns and people celebrating. The sentence of death has been changed. This allows people to get away with murder here, while others committ more murders.

    October 13, 2010 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      You, sir, are profoundly frightening.

      October 13, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom F

      I'm not sure what he just said.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alanna

    He serves 14 years in prison for taking someones life- and 2 weeks later kills his family? Why was he released the first time. Is this an example of how killers can be 'rehabilated'- this helps prove that 14 years for killing someone is not nearly long enoguh- killing someone deserves LIFE in jail or death. If he had been kept in prison where he belongs that that family would still be alive – and thoes that survived wouldnt have to go through life with the pain that a loved one killed their family. Give him a trial (Now- not 2 years from now) and then put him down- like the sick animal that he is.

    October 13, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Gidgit

      While I will admit that not all murderers can be rehabilitated, our system does not even try. Ours is set up strictly for punishment. In European countries where the focus is on rehab, the re offense rate is virtually non-existent.

      October 14, 2010 at 4:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. Pat

    He got 17 years for murder, meanwhile Misty Croslin got 25 years from trafficing Oxycodone. What a justice system we have here in America.

    October 13, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • W00K

      I agree Pat. Misty should have at the most probation. She's been treated unfairly while murderers walk free.

      If they had one shred of evidence.... but they don't. But some judge abused her position to convict her of it anyway.

      October 13, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Eddy

    they should hold the parole board, or who ever, release this monster or doctor, accountable for this crime too. dumb justice system in this country.learn from china about how they treat monster like this one ( bullet) that's it

    October 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. laura graff

    Did anyone else notice what the article said. It said he just finished 14 years of a sentence for murder, he
    committed only two years ago. This article screwed up.

    October 13, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • lynnerd

      Actually...as the article states, he served 14 years for a previous conviction of 2nd degree murder. Then, 2 weeks after he was released, he commited these murders. 🙂

      October 13, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. W00K

    why do we let murderers out of prison but we keep drug users incarcerated?

    do we like being murdered? do we feel sorry for the murderers?

    October 13, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MsDennis

    No – he committed the murders 7 months after he was released from prison. That's bad enough. I agree that he should be executed as quickly as possible – I just hate it that it will be pain-free.

    October 13, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MsDennis

    No – he committed the murders 7 months after getting out of prison, not 2 weeks. That's bad enough. The only thing I hate is that this animal will be allowed to live at least another 10 years and when he is executed, it will be pain-free.

    October 13, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Guester

    Murder should equal death penalty or life in prison, no parole at a minimum. You take another life you forfeit your own. Simple.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Busted

      Not really... but I guess those of us with more than an 8th grade education live with the curse of not being able to generalize everything in life.

      October 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      And why not Busted?

      How is it that he doesn't deserve to die? You've got a man who's murdered before was released and murdered 6, men women and children and tried to kill 3 other children.

      Give me one good reason why he should be kept alive.

      October 14, 2010 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tax $$ wasted

    This murderer should have NEVER been let out to the streets again. How did he get out?

    October 13, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Siliske

    Let's look at this the logical way... Prisons are sucking billions of dollars out of state budgets that could go towards creating jobs and helping out school districts. Better schools, better neighborhoods, better people.

    To save these billions of dollars, have the trial with in a month of the charges being pressed. If the murderer is found guilty, walk them from the court room to an outside courtyard to publicly execute them by firing squad on live television. No meals, no prison time, no nothing besides a bullet.

    There's nothing "political" to debate here, its simply common sense. And for those of you that would argue that the ones in the firing squad would be just as guilty as the murder, then you're calling our serving US soldiers murders as well. They're both doing the job of keeping our beloved country safe.

    If the man -is- innocent, by some off chance, ask yourself this: If he truly was innocent then there would be no shred of doubt that he was, right? Right. Educate the children, don't shelter the criminals.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas Dawn

      I am for the death penalty as much as any one (I am a Texan), but there are people wrongly convicted of murder all the time. While I don't agree with the instant execution for that reason, I do agree that 20 years is waaaaay to long and there are too many appeals. To those of you who want instant executions, do you think you's agree if it were YOU that were to be executed for a crime you didn't commit? Would you then want to "let God sort it out" or would you want every opportunity to prove your innocence. Do you know how many people are executed without DNA evidence? Or only due to eyewitness testimony? I witnesses a murder many years ago. I was one of two eyewitnesses. I did an artist sketch with the police artist and the other witness did a composite with the same person. The two pictures looked NOTHING alike. Had they tried to identify him with her composite, he'd have never been found. Multiple eyewitnesses to the same event often have very different testimony. He was eventually convicted (he was charged with capital murder and plead down to first degree. He got a sentence of 50 years and was eligible for parole after 8. I cried all the way home from the trial because they gave him such a light sentence.

      October 13, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Busted

      How is it you repulicans hate the Taliban? You share so many of the same "morals".

      October 13, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
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