The trial of Jessie Dotson for the 2008 murders of six people on Memphis’ Lester Street turned into a confrontation yesterday between Judge James Beasley Jr. and defense attorney Gerald Skahan, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Skahan asked a homicide detective about Dotson’s police interview being taped for the A&E TV reality show “The First 48,” saying the entire interview was not made available to Dotson’s defense team. In the interview, Dotson confessed to the murders, but the confession was ruled inadmissible in court. He told officers he first shot his 30-year-old brother, Cecil, then killed five others to eliminate them as witnesses.
Skahan then asked about a camera rolling inside the courtroom and whether it is part of a continuing “show.” Angered, Beasley explained that one courtroom camera is allowed as part of pooled video coverage and may be aired by a variety of TV outlets. He dismissed the jury for lunch and told Skahan he is “accusing this court of being part of a TV show.” The judge later explained to jurors: “This is not a reality show. It is a court of law. This court should never be part of a TV show or a reality show to make a mockery of the judicial system. The media has a right to be here and I want everyone to understand that.”