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Brian Dorsey set for Missouri execution despite groundswell of support

Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) denied a last-minute attempt to halt the execution of Brian Dorsey, a 52-year-old man convicted of the double murder of his cousin and her husband in December 2006.

“The pain Dorsey inflicted on others can never be undone, but carrying out Dorsey’s sentence in accordance with Missouri law and the Court’s order will provide justice and closure,” said Parson in a press release.

Dorsey’s legal team and his supporters argued that it would be wrong to execute Dorsey because he was rehabilitated.

” Governor. Parson chose to ignore the wealth of information available to him, demonstrating that Brian Dorsey is particularly deserving of mercy,” wrote Dorsey’s attorney, Megan Crane.

  • Dorsey – who is being held at the Potosi Correctional Center in Washington County, Missouri – is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday at 6 p.m. local time.
  • His execution warrant was issued on December 13, 2023 for shooting and killing the two family members with a shotgun.
  • He has “unprecedented” written support from more than 70 prison staff, including the former warden, who say he should not be executed, his lawyers wrote. He has an impeccable disciplinary record during his 17 years on death row, they added.
  • Family members argued for and against Dorsey’s clemency. A statement from Sarah Bonnie’s family given to local TV station KOMU argued that Dorsey should not receive any reprieve because the couple’s daughter never knew her parents. Meanwhile, video provided by Dorsey’s lawyers shows his cousins ​​saying they want his life spared.

Two days before Christmas 2006, Dorsey’s cousin, Sarah Bonnie, and her husband, Ben Bonnie, took Dorsey in because two drug dealers were threatening him to collect on his drug debt, according to a press release from the Missouri Attorney General, Andrew Bailey.

Dorsey was in a ‘psychotic state’ because he wasn’t sleeping for 72 hours while he was under the influence of crack cocaine, according to his lawyers. That night, prosecutors said, Dorsey shot the couple with his own shotgun in their bed. They left behind a 4-year-old daughter.

Prosecutors said Dorsey took a cell phone, jewelry, two guns and a copy of “Bambi II” belonging to the victims’ daughter. He took the items to pay off his drug debt, according to court records filed by prosecutors.

When he learned police were looking for him, he turned himself in and cooperated, his lawyers wrote.

Dorsey’s current attorneys have argued that their client received ineffective counsel during his trial.

Trial attorneys conducted no investigation, his current attorneys wrote, adding that trial attorneys “obtained nothing for Mr. Dorsey in return for his guilty plea.”

They claim the original attorneys failed to disclose that Dorsey suffered from drug-induced psychosis. Current attorneys argue that part of the reason may be financial: Trial attorneys received a flat fee of $12,000 — a practice that Mary Fox, director of the Missouri State Public Defender System, has declared discouraging in-depth work.

Fox wrote a letter to the courts arguing that block fees are an issue in this case because they have since been found to be a violation of American Bar Association guidelines and Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct.

“The Missouri State Public Defender recognizes the prevalence of unconstitutional and ineffective assistance of attorneys in wrongful death penalty cases,” she wrote.

Three years before the crime, the American Bar Association wrote that “attorneys in death penalty cases should be fully compensated at a rate commensurate with providing high-quality legal representation and reflecting the extraordinary responsibilities inherent in the crime.” representation in the event of a death penalty.

Dorsey was diagnosed with major depression when he was young, his lawyers wrote, and medication did not help. He then started self-medicated with crack when he was a teenager, according to his lawyers.

An open question in the case is whether the Eighth Amendment protects people who have been rehabilitated from execution, his lawyers argued in their latest attempt to stay the execution.

“Due to Mr. Dorsey’s unparalleled record on Missouri’s death row, this case provides the best avenue for the Court to address this issue,” his attorneys wrote.

  • Dorsey has been called a model inmate, one who lives in the honor dorm and works as the prison barber. He cuts the hair of prison guards, Dorsey’s lawyers wrote.
  • Retired Warden Troy Steele, who ran the Potosi Correctional Center, wrote of Dorsey that “his behavior is reported as exceptional, having received no reports of any type of misconduct.” He wrote that Dorsey had achieved “the highest levels of respect and trust” from prison staff.
  • A group of more than 70 prison staff wrote a letter to Parson, Missouri’s governor, saying they generally favor the death penalty but “agree that the death penalty is not the appropriate punishment for Brian.” Dorsey,” according to a court filing. They said they knew he was convicted of murder, but that’s not the Brian “they know.”
  • “Brian spent every day of his time in prison trying to make amends for his crime, and dozens of correctional officers have attested to his remorse, his transformation and his commitment to serve,” said Crane, his attorney. “Brian’s unprecedented support and compelling evidence of redemption are precisely the circumstances for which clemency is designed. Allowing Brian to be executed despite this truth is devastating.

Kim Bellware contributed to this report.

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