Child who survived attack that killed 6 in Memphis, Tenn. testifies against uncle at trialBy Adrian Sainz, AP
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Memphis, Tenn. boy testifies, says uncle killed 6
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A boy who was left to die in a bathtub with a knife sticking out of his skull testified Wednesday that his uncle was the one who attacked him in a rampage that left six people dead, including his parents and two siblings.
Cecil Dotson Jr., now 11, was stabbed in the neck and head during the March 2008 massacre.
When prosecutor Reggie Henderson asked where the man was who stabbed him, the boy pointed to his “Uncle Junior,” defendant Jessie Dotson, and softly said, “Right there.”
Jessie Dotson, 35, has pleaded not guilty to six first-degree murder charges and three counts of attempted first-degree murder. The boy’s parents and their two adult friends were shot to death while his 2-year-old and 4-year-old brothers were fatally stabbed and beaten. The only survivors were the boy and two other siblings who were stabbed, a 2-month old girl and a 5-year-old.
Prosecutors said Jessie Dotson got into an argument with his brother — the boy’s father, Cecil Dotson — and shot him, then tried to kill potential witnesses. Authorities said Jessie Dotson, who served prison time for murder and was released about seven months before the killings, confessed to police and to his mother days after the bodies were found.
Defense attorneys contend the killings were done by angry gang members and that the boy’s testimony is unreliable because of inconsistencies and the trauma he suffered.
The boy testified that he was watching TV in his sister’s room when he heard gunshots. He then saw his uncle pointing a gun at his father.
“I saw sparks and smoke come out of the gun,” said Cecil Dotson Jr., who was 9 at the time of the attack.
When the boy tried to call the police, he said, he was accosted by his uncle.
“He stabbed me through my head,” said the boy, who has scars on the front and side of his head.
The prosecutor then asked, “He said he was going to kill you like he did your daddy and his friends?”
“Yes sir,” responded the boy, who added that his uncle was the only one who attacked him.
During the investigation, Dotson Jr. gave an initial statement from his hospital bed that mentioned a person or people named “Roger” and “Roderick.” It was a few days later when the boy told investigators his attacker was “Uncle Junior.”
On cross examination, he acknowledged first telling investigators that a man with a bloody mask named Roderick followed an aunt inside the home after she knocked on the door late at night.
He then acknowledged he heard Roderick — who was in a gang — and his father arguing, then some shooting. A former gang member has testified that the boy’s father had a falling out with members of the “Gangster Disciples.”
“There was a fight in that living room between that man and your daddy?” McAfee said.
“Yes sir,” the boy said.