Despite receiving 6 death penalty sentences, convicted killer Jessie Dotson believes he won't die in prison. Last year, Dotson was convicted of murdering 4 adults and 2 children on Lester Street in 2008 in one of the worst massacres in Memphis history.
In an exclusive interview with FOX13's Jill Monier, Dotson said he's not only convinced he won't die in prison, but he believes the surviving victims who put him on death row could free him someday.
Shackles jingle from the bowels of death row as its newest inmate, Jessie Dotson, is escorted by prison guards to meet us just feet from where he's scheduled to die.
We were Dotson's only visitors since he arrived on death row at the Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville this March. The only family member he talks with is his mother, who he calls from death row.
"It's kind of hard, but I forgive her," Dotson said.
At his murder trial, Dotson's mother took the stand, telling jurors he confessed to her after he confessed to police. He told her an argument with his brother led to the massacre.
Dotson: I did confess but before I confessed I also told her they were trying to make me say I done it.
Jill: Has she said she forgives you?
Dotson: Forgives me for what? What is she forgiving me for? You have to have done something to be forgiven for, right?
After 2 weeks of heartbreaking testimony and gruesome crime scene photos, it took a jury just 90 minutes to find Dotson guilty.
Jill: Did you kill your brother?
Dotson: No ma'am.
Jill: Did you kill any of the people in that house?
Dotson: No ma'am.
Broken and bloody boards, believed to have been used to beat the children, one as young as 2 months old, were found in the home. It was a crime scene so heinous; it brought even the most seasoned emergency workers to their knees.
Jill: You said you confessed to your mother? How do you confess for something you didn't do?
Dotson: I keep telling you, how many times do I have to tell you, I was threatened. Do I have to keep saying threatened?!
Doston said he stands by his courtroom testimony, and that police strong-armed him into confessing. He claims he was hiding under the bed in the home during the murders, but he wouldn't go back through details of that night, saying his case is on appeal.
Dotson: It was horrifying but at the same token, what do you want me to do? It was nothing for me to do.
Jill: You could have called police.
Dotson: Could've, I didn't.
Dotson: Because… [long pause] that's something personal with me, something I got to live with.
Investigators believe the bodies could have sat in the home for 40 hours before they were discovered. FOX13 video shows Dotson at the crime scene the night police were eventually called.
Jill: What were you thinking then? You were on the scene the night police showed up on the scene.
Dotson: Well I already knew what happened. I knew my brother and them was dead so what you mean what I thought? I already know.
Jill: So you're telling me you knew there were kids in that house that were dead and dying and you chose not to call police?
Dotson: Yes ma'am. That's what I'm telling you.
Jill: A lot of people feel you're a monster.
Dotson: Well that's their opinion. People have their opinion, you can't stop people from having their opinions. I think people are monsters too so hey, it's vice versa. I know I'm not a monster.
3 children, also beaten and stabbed, survived the massacre. At trial one of the survivors, Dotson's 9-year old nephew, identified him as the killer. Grandmother Ida Anderson testified at the trial, saying the surviving children have questions.
Jill: Ida Anderson says they want to know what happened, they want their Uncle Jessie to tell them why he killed their parents, they loved him.
Dotson: I loved them too, I still love them but I didn't kill their parents.
Jill: Who did?
Dotson: I don't know.
Jill: The jury took 90 minutes to convict you, the judge believes you did this, your family believes you did this, are there any other people besides you that don't believe you did this?
Dotson: I don't know. They have their opinions. Just because a judge and my family believes something that don't make it true.
But Dotson said his father's testimony hurt him the most when he told jurors the two brothers didn't always get along.
Dotson: He got up there, guess they told him what to say… My thing is if I'm so guilty why everybody lying?
Jill: The judge says you should never walk the streets again and your sister calls you the devil. Do you think you're an evil person?
Dotson: No ma'am. I know I'm not an evil person.
During his trial Dotson seemed laid back, even smiling at times. In the end, the jury didn't buy Dotson's story that he was hiding during the massacre, nor did they believe the police threatened him to confess. Dotson had no reaction as the judge read the guilty verdict.
Dotson: What am I supposed to do? Get upset, get mad throw a temper tantrum? They said guilty, ok. It's not over.
After the verdict, Dotson changed into prison clothes before facing a jury for sentencing.
Dotson: First I wasn't coming out back out.
Dotson: They already said guilty. What else was there to do?
Jill: So when the judge read the sentence of 6 death penalties what went through your head?
Dotson: It's not over. Ok. 6 death penalties and 120 years. It's not over.
Jill: The lethal injection date is set for March 2, 2012… That'll be the 4 year anniversary of the murders.
Dotson: That's just a date.
Jill: So you have hope you'll get out someday?
Dotson: I know I will. I know I will.
Dotson claims he didn't get a fair trial. He believes the entire video tape of his confession, filmed by the A&E television show 'The First 48,' still exists and will free him someday. And he thinks the surviving child victims may eventually remember that day differently.
Dotson: I'm glad they're here, you never know, they might be the ones that free me. You never can tell.
In the meantime, Dotson said he spends most of his time in prison reading the Bible, Chicken Noodle Soup books and studying his case.
Dotson: I don't feel like I'm going to die here. This is time for me to evaluate things in my life. I feel it's going to all work out… like I said, I got God in my corner.
Jill: Do you believe in heaven and hell?
Dotson: Yes ma'am.
Jill: Where do you think you'll go?
Dotson: Heaven. Don't you think you're going to heaven?... I maintain my innocence, I will always maintain my innocence.
Check back with MyFoxMemphis.com on Wednesday for a 40 minute Extended Look at Jill's Interview with Jessie Dotson.
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