Change of venue decision delayed for Lester Street murder trial

Jessie Dotson
Jessie Dotson

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A change of venue decision has been delayed for the murder trial of Jessie Dotson, the man accused of killing six people inside a house on Lester Street in March of 2008.

A Memphis judge will make the decision on April 1.

Defense attorney Marty McAfee argued publicity surrounding the Lester Street murders would prevent Dotson from getting a fair trial.

"There's been so much attention to this it bears watching whether a fair trial can be had in this county," McAfee said.

But state prosecutors Ray Lepone said Shelby County jurors deserve more credit than Dotson's attorneys are willing to give.

"I think they can be fair and impartial and hold the state to its burden and expect some proof, and not just rush to judgement based on a news story," Lepone said.

Criminal court Judge James Beasley seemed to agree.  

"I never seen us not be able to pick a jury," he said.

Dotson is charged with murdering his brother, Cecil Dotson, and two of Cecil's children, as well as Marissa Williams, Hollis Seals and Shindri Roberson.  Police say the incident unfolded inside a house on Lester Street in March 2008.

Three other children were critically wounded in the attack, but survived.

Dotson pleaded not guilty to the charges.  If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Beasley ultimately put off the change of venue request until next month, but he put Dotson's trial date on the court calendar. Dotson's trial is scheduled to begin September 20th.

Action News 5 originally reported the change of venue had been denied.  We regret the error.

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