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Missouri executes convicted killer despite clemency appeals

April 10, 2024

The mid-western US state's governor rejected a clemency appeal for convicted murderer Brian Dorsey. His execution is the first in Missouri this year and the fifth nationwide.

A photo released by the Federal Public Defender, shows inmate Brian Dorsey at the Potosi Correctional Center, Washington County, Missouri.
Brian Dorsey was convicted of killing his cousin and her husband almost two decades agoImage: Jeremy Weis, Federal Public Defender/AP/picture alliance

Authorities in the US state of Missouri executed a man on Tuesday who was convicted of murdering his cousin and her husband almost two decades ago, despite appeals for clemency.

Brian Dorsey received a single-dose lethal injection at the state prison in Bonne Terre. His execution was the first in Missouri this year and the fifth in the United States.

He was convicted of shooting and killing his cousin Sarah Bonnie, and her husband Ben, on December 23, 2006 at their home, where they had taken him in after he sought to borrow money to pay two drug dealers. Their then 4-year-old daughter was also in the house at the time but was unharmed.

"Words cannot hold the just weight of my guilt and shame," Dorsey had said about his crime.

What do we know about the clemency appeals?

Dorsey's lawyers had appealed for a stay of execution with the Supreme Court. They argued that their defendant's situation was a "rare case where a person facing an imminent execution unquestionably is fully rehabilitated."

The lawyers stressed Dorsey committed the crime "during a drug-induced psychosis."

Hours before the execution, the Supreme Court turned aside both of Dorsey's appeals without comment.

Over 70 current and former correction officers signed a clemency request for Missouri's Republican Governor Mike Parson, urging him to commute Dorsey's sentence to life in prison without parole.

The petition said that though the signatories believe in the use of capital punishment, "we are in agreement that the death penalty is not the appropriate punishment for Brian Dorsey."

Parson, who has never granted clemency since taking office in 2018, rejected the appeal. He said Dorsey "punished his loving family for helping him in a time of need."

"His cousins invited him into their home, where he was surrounded by family and friends, then gave him a place to stay. Dorsey repaid them with cruelty, inhumane violence, and murder."

Capital punishment has been abolished in 23 US states, while the governors of six others, Arizona, California, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, have put a hold on its use.

rmt/jsi (AFP, AP)