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. kandy girl

    I remember this case. This man had a trail of hate since his brother turn him into the police and he had to serve years in jail. You could see on the First 48, what kind of hatred he had for his brother and family. He was not hiding, it was a calculated and well thought out murder because for years he hated his brother for turning him in. And then innocent children who had nothing to do with his previous situation was butchered like animals for his blood thirsty revenge. He is nowhere innocent like he claim. Those innocent children saw who hurt them and all he can is act like a coward and try to blame someone else. I hate to think like this even with familiies but you have to leave certain individuals alone and stay away from them because of a deep rooted hatred that has been simmering for years. This man murdered his own family because he had to do jail time for a crime he himself committed. And that what started his deep hatred for people. There is another case like this in Florida, again with the same hate. Why? Family are the people we can turn to and seek out for help and guidance and in nowhere nobody got that from "Junior". Not even his mother! I hope they put him in the electric chair – a turn the switch off and on for several minutes to torture him like he tortured his own family.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • shivani

      can someone tell me which episode of The First 48 this was shown?

      October 13, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michelle

    I broke out in laughter reading a blog and scrolled up to see who posted it and of course, it was Jim Brieske! I volunteer to bring the balloons and my daughters will hang the crepe paper and do the face painting!

    October 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Karen D

    Jim Brieske – you are right on point! The consequences do not fit crimes; evidence cannot be submitted for one assinine reason or another so the entire story cannot be told. People are no longer made to be held accountable for their own actions. If you did the crime; you should have to face the consequence. Period! Punishment to be carried out immediately. Our prisons are becoming luxury hotels for these people; they have more rights than I do.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Karen, if you think the reasons for excluding evidence are assinine, I suggest you go to law school and study evidence. Or, pick up a treatise on Evidence law, there is not just some arbitrary dumb reason for exclusion. In a democracy, we prefer to convict the guilty and not allow prejudicial or irrelevant evidence lead to convicting the innocent. People like you would love to live in Iran or Saudi Arabia, you get to see plenty or people executed. Prisoners have more rights than you? Please explain...

      October 13, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kyle

      John – You can google any number of cases where valid evidence was thrown out of court because of some police filing error in paper work. Don't act like there aren't assinine reasons for evidence exclusion. It happens, this is a fact. Not all things thrown out are prejudicial or irrelevant. So please, spare us the ridiculous claim that people like Karen would love to live in Iran or Saudi Arabia. Come back to the middle please, and jump off your extreme point of view.

      October 13, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Kyle,
      Yes, there are cases, but that doesn't mean we forget about decades of precedent whose purpose is to ensure a fair trial. The law of evidence like any other area is ever changing, but some basic tenants are in place to prevent injustice. Denying that reality as being important in a democracy is a dangerous way to think

      October 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hank

    II hear ya Karen D and Tomcat–stories like this just make me sick.....and would i be better off not knowinf about it??

    But he should be put to death as he killed and our prisons are a joke–luxury hotels at worst with an occasional shower episode. Just think what those little kids were thinking as their uncle tore into them for no reason?? I cant even imagine.....

    October 13, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. john

    Karen, seriously...please name one right which someone in prison has that you do not.

    October 13, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Really?

    The two youngest murder victims were Beaten as well as stabbed to death. No one believes he had to stab a 2 month old multiple times to keep the baby from telling about the crime! The brutality towards the victims who were the weakest is the telltale expression of his violent hatred of the entire family. This criminal has shed his humanity and is a permanent danger to remaining family members. For their protection, I agree this sick animal should be put down quickly.

    October 13, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Earl

    People who are against due process, ights to appeal and certainty in execution hate democracy

    October 13, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ss.rose

    for someone 2 do sumthn so terrible 2 another human being they need 2 have it turned bak on them n see wat those poor babies went through.thats all i thnk about those poor kids.i agree have a reasonable waiting period n then execute them all for violent murders.and that is a good idea 2 have the executions public violent crimes would drop like crazy but we all knw thats not guna happen

    October 13, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Earl

    Public excecutions won't happen because we lived in a civilized society. Clearly, not all people in society are civilized, but our laws are. You people are sick. Go move to Saudi Arabia where you belong.

    October 13, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Unthinkable

    If you saw the news as the verdict was being read (cannot recall which station sorry), the news reporters were talking about the different "Security Level" prisons Dotson may be sent to. But, they were talking about keeping him in a confined cell for 23 out of 24 hours a day, because of the risks other inmates may cause harm to him..because of what he did to innocent children?!?! I say throw his @ss in with the toughest guys, make sure they know what he did, and see if he can survive until his execution date of 03/2010(which we all know will be set back because this is America). Show him some true "Tough Love."

    October 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unthinkable

      And I take that back. Just tough, no love.

      October 13, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. john

    Despite the evil that this man is convicted of commiting, be glad you live in a society which grants those charged with crimes certain rights, you would be very gald to have them if you are ever charged with a crime.

    October 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unthinkable

      I agree to give them certain rights.... Innocent until Proven guilty. He was given a trial, with a jury brought in from another city. Crime deserves some type of punishment. As the old saying goes "Do the Crime, Do the Time." But I don't feel sitting a cell while taxpayers pay for your food and shelter is right either. Show some kind of punishment.

      October 13, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Ok, so we tear down all the prisons and execute everyone convicted regardless of the crime? It's sad that you put money ahead of human life, particularly with the disturbing number of convictions which get overturned.

      October 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unthinkable

      Not at all. I am just saying more punishiment in the criminal system if you are placed in jail. If I have to work my butt of everyday and have Uncle Sam take my money to fund criminals to stay in jail, they should be working their time off, not just sitting in a cell. I understand convictions are overturned all time.

      October 13, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Hempman

    EXECUTE THIS PIECE OF SUBHUMAN P.O.S ! Stabbing defenseless little children! W.T.F Wrong with this "person"?

    October 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    Crime or terrorist acts have nothing to do with religion. Can't blame Christianity for it.

    October 13, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ori

    Ori Is Only 12 Years Old And Smarter Than Most Of You Clowns.

    October 13, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. read

    "Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord" Eye for an eye doesn't mean travel half-way around the globe seeking revenge. Jesus said it means to "turn the other cheek" if someone insults you. If they brutally attack you or your family, it is your God given responsibility to defend the attack. I see no "pick and choose" as you describe. "There is no authority except by God"...so it is up to the authorities to decide if the death penalty is appropriate.

    October 13, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
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