Brian Dorsey Execution: Missouri to Execute Inmate for 2006 Double Murder of Sarah and Benjamin Bonnie

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The state of Missouri is scheduled to execute Brian Dorsey on Tuesday night for the 2006 murders of his cousin and her husband, after the governor refused to grant clemency a day earlier, despite support from more than 70 prison officials who believe the inmate’s life must be saved.

Dorsey, 52, still has litigation pending before the courts that could potentially halt his execution. These last-minute efforts are not unusual, and it is common for them to continue until the final moments before an inmate is executed.

But Gov. Mike Parson’s decision not to intervene was a blow to Dorsey, who had asked the governor to commute his sentence to life in prison, citing his remorse, his rehabilitation behind bars and his representation in the trial by attorneys he reportedly had. a “financial conflict of interest.”

Dorsey’s petition also cited support from some family members who his lawyers said were also related to the victims.

But other members of the victims’ families support the execution and told CNN in a statement that Dorsey committed the “ultimate betrayal” when he killed his cousin Sarah Bonnie and her husband, Benjamin, leaving behind their daughter Jade, who was then 4 years, in the house. with the bodies of her parents locked in her bedroom.

“Jade not only lost her parents, but we also lost a daughter and a son, a sister and a brother, an aunt and uncle, and a great-aunt and great-uncle for many,” the statement read in part. Sarah Bonnie’s family.

“Everyone who knew them loved them deeply,” he said. “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 were unconvincing to Gov. 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. The execution order calls for Dorsey to be executed within a 24-hour period beginning at 6 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

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

“The pain Dorsey caused others can never be rectified, but carrying out Dorsey’s sentence in accordance with Missouri law and the Court’s order will deliver justice and provide closure,” the governor said.

The inmate’s repentance and defense at trial justified mercy, petition argues

Dorsey is deeply remorseful for the murders, his lawyers said. His clemency petition claimed that the murders occurred while Dorsey was suffering from a “drug-induced psychosis and alcohol-induced blackout” after years of substance 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 has cut the hair of staff at the Potosi Correctional Facility, including chaplains, wardens and correctional officers, some of whom wrote to the governor supporting his petition for clemency.

“If you ask me, if it weren’t for the drugs, none of this would have happened,” wrote one whose name, like others, was redacted in the privacy request. “The Mr. Dorsey I know must have been insane at the time of these murders.”

Additionally, Dorsey’s attorneys maintain that his sentence was unfair because of the agreement by which his trial attorneys were paid. Both were paid flat fees of $12,000, which would amount to just a few dollars an hour if they did the work required for a capital case.

Dorsey’s attorneys allege that this created a “financial conflict of interest,” which discouraged work on his case, leading trial attorneys to find him guilty with no guarantee of a life sentence or a proper investigation. If they had done the latter, his current attorneys say, they might have discovered that Dorsey was incapable of the deliberation required to one count of first degree murder.

Dorsey’s trial lawyers previously testified that the flat fee payment did not affect his 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 called Sarah for help, according to a history of the case included in a Missouri Supreme Court ruling last month. Dorsey said there were two drug dealers in her apartment and she needed money to pay them.

The couple went to Dorsey’s apartment and the drug dealers left. They then took Dorsey back to his house, the ruling notes, and Dorsey spent the night drinking and playing pool with his family and friends.

Later that night, according to the ruling, Dorsey entered their room and fatally shot them with a shotgun at point-blank range. Court records say Dorsey raped Sarah’s body, although Dorsey’s lawyers argued this is still an accusation; He was never charged or 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 murder, court records show, and his conviction and death sentence had already been upheld on appeal.

The murders were deeply traumatic for Sarah Bonnie’s family, according to her statement, noting that the bodies were discovered by her parents. In the years since, the family did everything they could to keep Sarah and Ben’s memories alive, taking her daughter to the cemetery each 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,” his statement read. “All of this was taken from her by a member of her family who proclaimed to love her.”

However, Jenni Gerhauser, cousin of the inmate and Sarah Bonnie, is hopeful that Dorsey will be saved. In a video statement provided by Dorsey’s attorneys, Gerhauser called him “funny,” “compassionate” and “a pleasure to be around.”

“If they execute Brian,” she said, “my heart will break.”

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