Missouri executes Brian Dorsey for 2006 double murder after mercy bid backed by 72 correctional officers


The state of Missouri executed Brian Dorsey, who, after being sentenced to death for the murder of his cousin and her husband, drew the support of more than 70 correctional officers and others who had argued that he had his life saved.

Dorsey, 52, was executed Tuesday, with the time of death recorded as 6:11 p.m., the Missouri Department of Corrections said.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to halt the execution.

The state’s Republican governor this week denied clemency in a major blow to Dorsey, who had asked for his sentence to be commuted to life in prison, citing his remorse, his rehabilitation while behind bars and his representation at trial by attorneys who allegedly had a “financial conflict of interest.”

In a final written statement before his execution, Dorsey thanked his supporters who defended his interests and apologized to the relatives of his victims, Sarah and Benjamin Bonnie.

“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. Words cannot bear the proper weight of my guilt and shame,” Dorsey said, according to the statement provided to CNN by his lawyers. “I still love you. I never meant to hurt anyone. I’m sorry for hurting them and you.

“To my family, friends, and everyone who tried to stop this, I love you!” I am grateful to you,” he said. “I have peace in my heart largely because of you and I thank you. To everyone on ALL sides of this sentence, I bring no ill will or anger, only acceptance and understanding.

While Dorsey’s petition also cited support from some relatives who his attorneys say were also related to the victims, other members of the victims’ families support the execution, telling CNN in a statement that Dorsey committed the ” ultimate betrayal” by killing Sarah Bonnie, her cousin and her husband Benjamin and left their daughter Jade, then aged 4, at home with the bodies of her parents locked in their bedroom.

“Not only did Jade lose her parents, but we also lost a daughter and son, a sister and brother, an aunt and uncle, and a great aunt and great uncle to so many,” can we read in part in the press release from Sarah Bonnie’s family.

“They were so deeply loved by all who knew them,” it reads. “After all these years of pain and suffering, we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Brian will get the justice that Sarah and Ben have deserved for so long.

Dorsey’s arguments for clemency did not convince Gov. Mike Parson, who said in a statement Monday that the state would carry out the inmate’s death sentence as ordered by the Missouri Supreme Court.

“Brian Dorsey punished his loving family for helping him in his time of need,” Parson said. “His cousins ​​invited him to their home where he was surrounded by family and friends, then offered him a place to stay. Dorsey rewarded them with cruelty, inhumane violence and murder.

“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 the governor.

Inmate’s remorse and trial defense justified pardon, petition says

Dorsey feels deep remorse for the killings, his lawyers said. His clemency petition claimed the murders took place while Dorsey was suffering from “drug-induced psychosis and alcohol-induced blackout” after years of drug abuse aimed at self-medicating chronic depression. .

As proof of his atonement, Dorsey and his lawyers pointed to his impeccable disciplinary record and his work as a barber; For 11 years, Dorsey cut the hair of staff at the Potosi Correctional Center, including chaplains, guards and corrections officers — some of whom wrote to the governor in support of his request for clemency.

“In my opinion, without the drugs, none of this would have happened,” wrote someone whose name, like others, was redacted in the privacy petition. “The Mr. Dorsey I know must have been insane at the time of these murders.”

Additionally, Dorsey’s lawyers argue that his sentence was unfair because of the agreement by which his lawyers were paid. Both received flat fees of $12,000, which would be just a few dollars an hour for the work required in a capital case.

Dorsey’s lawyers say this created a “financial conflict of interest” that discouraged work on his case, leading trial lawyers to have him plead guilty without guarantee of a life sentence or investigation adequate. Had they done the latter, his current lawyers argue, they might have learned that Dorsey was incapable of the deliberation required for a first-degree murder charge.

Dorsey’s lawyers previously said the lump sum payment did not affect their handling of the case. One of them declined to comment when contacted by CNN last week, while the other did not respond.

The murders occurred on the night of Dec. 23, 2006. Hours earlier, Dorsey had called Sarah for help, according to case history included in a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that month last. Two drug dealers were in his apartment, Dorsey said, and he needed money to pay them.

The couple went to Dorsey’s apartment and the drug dealers left. They then took Dorsey home, with the decision notes, and Dorsey spent the evening drinking and playing pool with family and friends.

Later that night, according to the ruling, Dorsey entered their bedroom and shot them with a shotgun at point-blank range. Court records indicate that Dorsey raped Sarah’s body, although Dorsey’s lawyers have argued that remains an allegation; he was never charged and never pleaded guilty to rape or sexual assault.

Dorsey was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and pleaded guilty in March 2008. He was sentenced to death for each killing, according to court records, and his conviction and death sentence have already been upheld on appeal.

The murders were deeply traumatic for Sarah Bonnie’s family, their statement said, noting that the bodies were discovered by her parents. In the years that followed, the family did what they could to keep Sarah and Ben’s memories alive, taking their daughter to the cemetery every year to release balloons.

“We think about all the things he missed during his life without his parents. First day of school, school parties, school dances, first date, sweet sixteen, first boyfriend and high school graduation,” their statement read. “All of that was taken away from him by a family member who said they loved him.”

Jenni Gerhauser, a cousin of the inmate and Sarah Bonnie, had hoped Dorsey would be spared, however, and was “devastated and disheartened by the ultimate failure to save the life of our cousin, Brian Dorsey,” she said in a statement. communicated. Tuesday early afternoon.

“Tonight, Brian will be released,” she said. “His punishment will end, and for all of us guilty of loving him, ours will begin.”

CNN’s John Fritze contributed to this report.

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