Wednesday, July 16, 2008
In an interrogation aired on national television Tuesday night, Lt. Toney Armstrong of the Memphis Police Department drew a confession from 33-year-old Jessie Dotson for the Lester Street mass murder.
The confession came at the end of an hourlong episode of "The First 48," an A&E Television reality show that follows homicide detectives in several cities, including Memphis.
Armstrong played for Dotson a taped interview with his nephew, Cecil Dotson Jr., who was at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center recovering from head wounds.
"Who did it?" Sgt. Caroline Mason asked on the recording.
"Junior," Cecil Jr. replied.
Jessie Dotson, who spent 14 years in state prison for second-degree murder, was known as Junior in the family.
The child witness ultimately helped Armstrong elicit Dotson's confession.
The day of the killings, Dotson told Armstrong, he and his brother, Cecil Dotson, were together. "We got to arguing," Dotson told him. "We argued all the way to the house. Then we got out and went in the house. He was still shooting off."
Soon, Cecil reached for a 12-gauge shotgun behind the couch, Dotson said.
"I just started shooting," Dotson explained.
"How many times did you shoot him?" Armstrong asked.
"I don't know."
"The kids saw me."
"Then what happened?"
"I tried to get rid of the kids. ... I stuck them."
After the confession, Dotson crossed his arms and looked down.
"I wanna talk to my momma," he said.
Four adults, including 30-year-old Cecil, and two children were killed during the March 2 mass murders. The adults were shot multiple times using two different guns and the children were stabbed and beaten. Three children, though critically wounded, survived the brutal attacks.
Dotson is charged with six counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder in the attacks. [Mark Godsey]