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Family Testifies in Lester Street Massacre Trial

Tense moments for Jessie Dotson as his father took the stand in the Lester Street Massacre trial.
MEMPHIS, TN - Tense moments for Jessie Dotson as his father took the stand in the Lester Street Massacre trial. The man accused of killing six people, including his brother and niece and nephews in March of 2008, sat in court as his father recalled the last few days he spent with his sons.

One after another, victim's family members testified about the last times they spoke with their loved ones. The father of Cecil and Jessie, one a victim, the other the accused killer, offered insight into what might have caused the fight between brothers that prosecutors say led to the murders of six men, women and children. Jessie Dotson senior said a fight had been brewing between his sons for some time.

“He [Jessie] said wherever they go, restaurant, club, anywhere, he [Cecil] would somehow let somebody know that he [Jessie] just got out of jail,” said Jessie Dotson Sr. of Cecil talking about Jessie. “He said it was making him look bad, making people talk bad about him.”

Dotson Sr. said he had seen his grandchildren and sons on Saturday march 1st. He described his reaction when he heard the news.

“I just broke down,” said Dotson Sr.

Dotson Sr. even talked about a gun that was sitting on the counter in Cecil's home on Lester Street.

“He said let's move this gun that's blue and the kids may think it's a toy, so Cecil put up Junior's gun and told him what he did with it,” said Dotson Sr.

This, after heated testimony from the MPD case coordinator on Lester Street.

“Police don't exonerate people, police charge people right,” defense attorney Gerald Skahan asked Lt. Rick Davidson. “Nah,” Davidson replied. “They exonerate people too. It's not my job to find a defense for your client."

But the defense kept at it. Questions about a lack of Dotson's DNA found at the crime scene.

“Let's talk about the semen that was found in the 2 year old's mouth, is that not important as it tested?” Skahan asked Davidson.

“That's right,” he responded.

“If it had been Jessie Dotson's would it have been important?” Skahan asked.

“No sir,” Davidson replied.

Attention also centered around the statement from 9 year old Cecil Junior, the child victim who survived and pointed the finger at Jessie Dotson Jr. as the killer.

“Is it fair to say that from the first interview to the last, CJ gave different accounts of what happened?” Skahan asked.

Davidson said that was true, but the prosecution countered.

“From the time CJ told Mason on March 7, 2008, about this, up till now, has he ever said anyone but Jessie Dotson did it?” asked Prosecutor Ray Lepone.

“No sir,” replied Davidson.

Also taking the stand, the mother of victim Marissa Williams, she’s also the grandmother of several of the victims.

Ida Anderson didn't want the court cameras to see her face, for the safety of her grandkids. The judge asked the media not to. Anderson is the mother of murder victim Marissa Williams, who was living with Cecil Dotson.

“I didn't have any control over who she loved,” said Anderson.

She said she knew something was wrong when she saw coverage of the March 2008 murders on TV.

“When I got home from work, I saw it on TV,” said Anderson. “I saw the street sign said Lester, and I was like, oh, my daughter lives on Lester. Shortly after that, Nicole (Dotson) called us and told us to get over there.”

Jessie Dotson senior says he learned about it the same way, even though he took his son Jessie to work Monday morning.

“Did he tell you he knew something had happened in the early hours of March 2nd in the Lester Street home?” asked Lepone.

“No,” Dotson Sr. replied.

Defense attorneys cross-examined with questions about Jessie's relationship with the kids who were killed at the Lester St. home.

“Jessie spoiled those kids didn't he,” asked defense attorney Marty McAfee.

Dotson senior said he did.

Throughout all the questioning, Dotson Sr. couldn't contain his emotions.
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