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Brian Dorsey: US prisoner executed despite clemency appeals by guards

Image source, Jeremy Weiss


Brian Dorsey killed Sarah and Ben Bonnie in 2006

A Missouri man who murdered his cousin and her husband in 2006 was executed by lethal injection despite pleas for mercy from prison staff.

Brian Dorsey, 52, shot Sarah and Ben Bonnie after they agreed to help him pay off his debts to drug dealers.

The couple’s four-year-old daughter was at the home during the fatal attack.

He was pronounced dead at 6:11 p.m. local time (11:11 p.m. GMT) on Tuesday, according to a press release from the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Dorsey’s defenders argued that he had reformed during his time in prison and was not given adequate legal defense at his trial.

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected two attempts to delay the execution. The governor also rejected a request for clemency, saying in a statement Monday that Dorsey “punished his loving family for helping him in his time of need.”

Missouri Gov. Michael Parsons also cited prosecutors’ claims that he sexually assaulted his cousin’s body after killing her. Dorsey’s lawyers reject the allegation, saying it was never proven at trial.

Dorsey turned himself in to police three days after the attack. He confessed and pleaded guilty.

He is the first inmate executed by Missouri this year, after four people were put to death in the state in 2023.

Dorsey’s lawyers argued that he had become a model inmate over the past 17 years, that he worked as a prison barber, cutting hair for staff, and that he was remorseful for his crimes.

They said he was suffering from a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the attack, two days before Christmas, and that his lawyers faced a financial conflict of interest during the trial.

At the time, the Missouri Public Defender’s Office paid court-appointed attorneys a flat fee of $12,000 (£9,500) per case. A small sum, considering the thousands of hours normally required in capital murder cases.

They say his lawyers pressured him to accept a plea deal that did not guarantee he would not be sentenced to death.

Former Missouri Supreme Court Justice Michael Wolff wrote to the governor saying the payment system, which has since been changed, “undoubtedly influenced everything.”

Mr. Wolff wrote that executing Dorsey would “disgrace our system of capital punishment.”

A petition signed by more than 70 correctional officers said his sentence should be commuted to life in prison for good behavior.

“The Brian I’ve known for years couldn’t hurt anyone,” one officer wrote in the petition. “The Brian I know doesn’t deserve to be executed.”

In his final statement before his death, Dorsey again apologized to his victims and their loved ones.

“To all of the family and loved ones I share with Sarah and to all of Ben’s surviving family and loved ones, I am totally, deeply and extremely sorry,” he wrote.

“Words cannot bear the proper weight of my guilt and shame. I still love you. I never meant to hurt anyone. I’m sorry for hurting them and you.”

Before the execution, relatives of Dorsey’s victims called the completion of his sentence a “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Dorsey “was a close family member who was given a safe haven out of a bad situation and turned that helping hand into the ultimate betrayal of a loved one,” according to a statement from Sarah’s family Bonnie.

The execution was carried out by a single dose of the sedative pentobarbital at Bonne Terre State Prison.

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With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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