The electrifying interrogation of now death row inmate Jessie Dotson created moments of reality television gold. The trial was riveting and costly, with a price tag of more than $450,000, coming with a foregone conclusion of a death penalty sentence which few seemed ready to argue with.
Two-and-a-half years have gone by since a judge ruled the convicted Lester Street mass murderer should face an appointment with death for mercilessly taking the lives of six people in 2008.
But, one of the lawyers composing Dotson's defense team during the trial, presented arguments for the granting of a new trial to the judges of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals in a Jackson, Tenn., courtroom on Tuesday.
Where do you begin to create reasonable doubt justice wasn't served? You throw the kitchen sink of legal, factual and procedural factors.
"You pretty much attack everything you can. Because you have to include it in the first appeal to preserve it for any future appeals down the road," says Dotson's defense attorney Gerald Skahan.
Skahan confirmed his defense team partner, Marty MacAfee, introduced to the judges a number of alleged discrepancies. He noted Dotson's confession to Memphis police homicide detectives that he fired a .45-caliber gun in shooting the four adults in the house. However, evidence from the scene indicated only bullets fragments from a .380 and a 9-mm were found.
No DNA or blood evidence directly linked Dotson to the crime.
MacAfee also challenged parts of the testimony of young Cecil Dotson one of the two eyewitnesses who tabbed their "Uncle Junior" as the killer. State prosecutors insisted to the judges the evidence clearly pointed to Dotson as the lone assassin. That's in addition to relying heavily on Dotson's confession and the eyewitness accounts given by two of the three surviving children.
"Looking back on it I wouldn't change a thing. I think we did the best we could. I think we made the right decisions," says Skahan.
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