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Over 150 Individuals Urge Missouri Governor to Pardon Brian Dorsey’s Death Penalty

With less than a week remaining until Brian Dorsey’s scheduled execution at the Potosi Correctional Center in Missouri for the 2006 killings of his cousin and her husband, an unprecedented campaign is underway to commute the 52-year-old’s capital sentence to life without parole.

Over 150 individuals, including more than 70 current and former prison personnel, Republican state representatives, jurors, and even the appeals judge who affirmed Dorsey’s conviction and death sentence in 2009, have petitioned Missouri Governor Mike Parson to reconsider Dorsey’s punishment.

In a recent editorial for the Missouri Times, retired Missouri Supreme Court Judge Michael Wolff expressed regret for the decision made by him and his fellow jurists. “In the case of Brian Dorsey, I now believe this is the rare case where we got it wrong,” Wolff wrote. “I am so convinced of our error that I have asked Governor Parson to grant clemency to Mr. Dorsey.”

Brian Dorsey

Brian Dorsey (Credits: The Guardian)

Wolff argued that Dorsey’s defense lawyers had been inadequately supported due to a now-defunct system at the time that paid them a flat fee through the state public defender system. This compromised Dorsey’s legal representation in his capital case, a fact unknown to the appeals panel.

Meanwhile, Timothy Lancaster, a former officer at Potosi, expressed his opposition to Dorsey’s execution in a recent letter to the Kansas City Star, labeling it as “pointless cruelty.” Dozens of former and current Missouri Department of Corrections officers and prison staff have echoed this sentiment in letters to Governor Parson, stating that while they generally support capital punishment, it is not appropriate in Dorsey’s case.

These letters highlight Dorsey’s positive behavior while incarcerated, including his avoidance of trouble, respectful demeanor toward officers and fellow inmates, and his employment in the Potosi barber shop, where he serves both prisoners and officers.

Michelle Smith, co-director of Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty, emphasized the significance of correctional officers’ support for Dorsey’s clemency, noting that it demonstrates their belief in his character and their opposition to his execution.

Dorsey’s current legal team contends that he was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the killings, driven by his indebtedness to drug dealers. Despite pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree murder after killing his cousin and her husband with a shotgun and fleeing with their possessions, Dorsey’s attorneys argue that he was incapable of the deliberation required for capital murder.

Jenni Gerhauser, a cousin of both the victim and the perpetrator, voiced her support for the clemency appeal, underscoring the complexity of the case beyond a simple “eye-for-an-eye” perspective.

Notably, Governor Parson has never granted a request for clemency, according to reports. Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey emphasized his office’s commitment to upholding the law, noting aggravating factors such as Dorsey’s sexual assault of his cousin and other aspects of the case.

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