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. James

    I don't approve of the death penalty in most cases but this one, I feel, calls for it. Anything this grotesque with extremely conclusive forensic evidence is a situation where the most extreme punishment possible is necessary.

    October 13, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. angiebaby

    He planed that!! Damn soooo sad! U can't trust no one but GOD! My heart goes out 2 the survivors.

    October 13, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. scranton

    So he had served 14 years for a previous murder and is let out of prison and killed 6 more when he got out. For those bleeding hearts out there that swear that the death penalty is not a deterrent, this is just not true. If he would of been for his first murder crime these six would still be alive. That's a deterrent.

    October 13, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. cabo wabo

    hey our twisted democratic society already allows public and private executions! this moron was freed from prison, allowing him the freedom to hold a mass execution of people he felt deserved to die. of course we arent condoning it now, but we allowed him his freedom to make his choice. we are idiots. our society is fundamentally broken. and public executions occur daily in the usa, tho not condoned by us. we might as well get on the band wagon and hold some of theses ouselves, for those who actually deserve it.

    October 13, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. cabo wabo

    we already have public executions in our twisted democratic society, as well as private. anyone can do it. we allowed this moron his freedom and he chose to hold a mass execution of people he felt deserved it. people are executing others in the usa every day, tho we arent condoning it. so lets jump on the band wagon and be ok with holding our own executions of those who deserve it. we're already a fundamentally depraved society, how does legal execution really worsen the situation?

    October 13, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jennifer

    I'm from Pennsylvania, and back in the 1800's if a murder was committed the would hold a public execution, that the whole town or state would be allowed to eyewitness the execution, well I say that they should come back with that, but instead let the whoe nation witness the execution on national tv and get these vicious animals off the streets!!!!!!!!!!

    October 13, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. scotonfire

    If the wheels of justice churn as slow as usual he's got another fifteen to twenty years left to live.

    October 13, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Barry Obama

    Start with hydrochloric acid on his genitals ....... I leave the rest up to all of YOU ......

    October 13, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mother Teresa

      Put him in prison with the worst-of-the-worst, just him and a small tub of vaseline!

      October 13, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. britty

    the justice system is not perfect nor will it ever be its made by humans and not one human is perfect. instead of fighting over how this horrible person should be treated why not come together to support the surviving children they will need a lifetime of help. if this murderer saw all this bickering about him in his sick deranged brain he would think your making him infamous and to those who want to throw racial slurs at others your full of hate just as he is you might not act on it like him but hate and stupidity is what you have in common. whether you believe in god or not keep in mind who you should be thinking or praying or whatever about its about the CHILDREN

    October 14, 2010 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. pork

    If only they could truly make him suffer. I hope he grovels with fear and completely soils himself when it's time. He should be tortured as if he were in the Lubyanka.

    October 14, 2010 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Darth Maul

    The US has several US Territories consisting of islands uninhabited by humans, yet we still pay to maintain there ecology. Some of the Midway islands are vacant. Anyone serving life should be dropped off and left to fend for themselves. This gets them off the tax payers dime and out of our prisons. you just need a couple patrol boats. Before you humanitarins say this is inhuman, early explorers and several native tribes not only survive but thrive in conditions worse than this. They can learn to adapt or die. The choice is thiers.

    October 14, 2010 at 4:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. sndman1964

    We should abolish the death penalty. Leave the guy in prison for the rest of his life. One innocent killed is one too many.

    October 14, 2010 at 5:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. amanda


    October 14, 2010 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. ...whatever

    Harvest his body for organs for people who really need them..

    October 14, 2010 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ashley

    I am a long time resident of Memphis and this is one of the worst things we have ever seen. The day they found the bodies, it was all over every single news channel in the country. The entire city and many throughout the country were devestated because of what this killer did, which later turned out to be a "family member". The same family member who went into police protection during the investigation was the one who changed the lives of so many people March 8, 2008. Over the past 2 1/2 years, this city has had many fundraisers for the innocent remaining 3 YOUNG victims who no longer have parents and tried to make sense of this whole thing. Unfortunately, there will never be an understanding as to what was so bad between the two Dotson brothers that would make someone murder 6 people and attempt to murder 3 others, especially the children. Jessie Dotson could have stopped at the adults, but what kind of person can torture innocent children like that?! The oldest survivor(the one with a 4 inch knife sticking out of his head when found), was the one who actually identified his "Uncle Junior" as the killer. This man is in no way, shape or form, innocenct. The case was one of the most devestating cases our police force had ever seen and many still require counseling today. I know this because I am close with several higher ranked officers on the force. We are glad the trial is over mainly because the healing for the family and city can begin. There will be a very long road ahead of everyone, but at least it has begun. I think everyone should focus on the innocent children left alive in this case, for they are the ones truely in need of peace. They will carry this with them for the rest of their lives.....

    October 14, 2010 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
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