Justice does not come cheaply, especially when the defendant is accused of being the worst mass murderer in Memphis’ history, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Jessie Dotson, a previously convicted killer, was found guilty this month of shooting to death his brother and three other adults, stabbing to death two small children, and nearly killing three others. A jury imported from Nashville convicted the 35-year-old Dotson on all counts and gave him six death penalties.
The trial is believed to be the most expensive in Memphis history. To date, the cost to taxpayers stands at nearly $450,000. More bills are pending and years of automatic appeals will have no cap on expenses. “People will say there was an eyewitness, why have a trial, but what if the guy’d been found innocent?” said Criminal Court Judge James Beasley Jr. “Do we put a price tag on the freedoms we have in our country? Is there a price tag for the justice system? When do we say that’s too much?” The price tag included security inside and out of the courtroom, court-appointed attorneys and investigators, and sequestering and feeding 16 jurors and alternates for more than two weeks. Allegations of gang involvement prompted a strong presence of uniform and plainclothes officers in and around the courtroom during the 14-day trial and the five-day jury selection in Nashville. Security likely was the reason that the emotion-charged, six-victim capital-murder case went without incident.