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Missouri death row inmate Brian Dorsey executed after Supreme Court rejects bids to intervene

Washington — Missouri death row inmate Brian Dorsey was executed Tuesday evening after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene, officials confirmed.

Dorsey was convicted of murdering his cousin and her husband nearly 20 years ago.

The state carried out Dorsey’s death sentence by lethal injection at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, the Missouri Department of Corrections said in a statement. He was pronounced dead at 6:11 p.m. local time.

The execution took place on Tuesday evening after the High Court rejected two separate applications for intervention. No dissent was noted. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, confirmed Monday that the state was moving forward with Dorsey’s death sentence, rejecting another request for clemency.

More than 70 current and former correctional officers have urged Parson to commute Dorsey’s sentence, arguing that he had been rehabilitated, and his lawyers said Dorsey was suffering from a drug-induced psychosis when he committed the murders in 2006.

Dorsey, 52, was the first Missouri inmate to be executed this year after four were executed in 2023.

Kirk Henderson, Dorsey’s attorney, criticized the state for carrying out the execution.

“If anyone deserves mercy, it’s Brian, who has been fully rehabilitated and whose death sentence was so wrong that five of his jurors believe he should not be executed,” Henderson said in a statement. . “Executing Brian Dorsey is unnecessary cruelty, an exercise of state power that serves no legitimate penological purpose.”

Dorsey pleaded guilty to shooting and killing his cousin, Sarah Bonnie, and her husband, Ben Bonnie, at their home on December 23, 2006. According to court filings, Dorsey had called his cousin to get money from give to two drug dealers who were at his apartment, and the three returned to the Bonnies’ home later that night after agreeing to help him.

After Sarah, Ben Bonnie and their daughter went to bed, Dorsey grabbed a shotgun and shot the couple, after which prosecutors accused Dorsey of sexually assaulting his cousin. He then stole several items from the Bonnies’ home, including jewelry and their car, and tried to sell them to pay off his drug debt, state officials said.

The bodies were discovered after Sarah Bonnie’s parents went to the house after the couple disappeared from a family gathering on Christmas Eve. When they entered the house, they found the couple’s 4-year-old daughter sitting on the couch, who had told her grandparents that her mother would not wake up.

Dorsey went to police three days after the murders and confessed to the killings. He was then sentenced to death.

After appeals against his death sentence failed, the Missouri Supreme Court issued an execution warrant in December. Dorsey sought additional relief, arguing that his conviction and sentence violated the Sixth Amendment, although his efforts have failed.

In a request for Supreme Court intervention, Dorsey’s attorneys argued that lawyers appointed by the Missouri public defender’s office to represent him were paid a lump sum of $12,000 each, presenting a conflict of interest. interests directly pitting their personal financial interests against Dorsey’s rights. to the effective assistance of a lawyer.

Dorsey’s current lawyers told the Supreme Court in a filing that his court-appointed attorneys provided “grossly deficient representation” in a capital case and pressured their client to plead guilty without any agreement that prosecutors would not pursue the death penalty.

They argued in a second request that Dorsey had achieved “remarkable redemption and rehabilitation” during his more than 17 years on death row, and that “the purposes of capital punishment would not be furthered by” its execution.

Dorsey’s lawyers also raised concerns on Missouri’s execution protocol, which says nothing about the use of any painkillers. They describe their client in court documents as obese, diabetic and a former intravenous drug user, which could make it difficult to establish IV lines for lethal injection and could lead Missouri Department of Corrections employees to resort to reductions “.

During the procedure, large incisions are made in the arms, legs, or other areas of the body, and tissue is removed from the vein. A federal lawsuit filed on Dorsey’s behalf in Missouri District Court alleged that no anesthetic was administered during “reductions” and that the procedure took place before an inmate met with his or her spiritual advisor for the final time, what Dorsey plans to do.

His lawyers argued that the “significant pain and anguish” Dorsey would feel when he met with his spiritual advisor would hinder his ability to freely exercise his religion.

An agreement was reached Saturday under which the state would take steps to limit the risk of extreme pain for Dorsey, according to the Associated Press.

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