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MADP Launches Petition: #ClemencyforBrianDorsey

On December 13, 2023 the Missouri Supreme Court set the execution date of April 9, 2024, for Brian Dorsey. In remembering the tragic loss of Sarah and Ben Bonnie, we acknowledge the gravity of the situation that led to Brian's conviction for capital murder in Callaway County. Our thoughts are with all co-victims and their families during this difficult time, as we also reflect on the complex circumstances surrounding Brian's action, join us in urging Governor Parson to grant #ClemencyForBrianDorsey:

  1. Brian has had zero disciplinary violations over 17 years – an unheard of accomplishment – and

  2. Many MDOC Correctional Staff support clemency.

  3. Brian is innocent of capital murder and never should have been eligible for the death penalty because he was not capable of deliberation,

  4. Brian received ineffective assistance of counsel who were paid an extremely low flat fee to represent him and convinced him to plead guilty, which saved them considerable money, before doing any investigation into any possible defenses or completing a psychological evaluation.

Though in the throes of drug psychosis and unable to recall the night of the crime, Brian takes full accountability and has done his all to atone for his crimes. Brian has maintained an exceptional institutional record with never having received any disciplinary violations, has worked as the staff barber for over a decade (cutting the hair of wardens and guards) and is supported by tens of correctional officials in pleading the Governor for clemency. Executing Brian does nothing to promote public safety and only serves to create further harm.

We need your help moving Missouri Governor, Mike Parson, to grant clemency.

Brian’s early years. Brian was a soft-spoken and generous child who grew up in a dysfunctional home environment where he was raised by an alcoholic father who battled with his own mental illnesses and who was often physically and verbally abusive to his mother. Brian began being given alcohol as a young child and by the time he was in his late teens, he’d begun drinking daily to cope with his unstable home life as well as his chronic severe depression, which started in adolescence.

At the age of 17, Brian was introduced to drugs and quickly became hooked on self-medicating his Major Depressive Disorder with drugs and alcohol. Brian attempted to get treatment numerous times, but his depression proved drug-resistant. The cycle seeking drug and mental health treatment to get off the drugs, but then treatment failing and his need to turn back to drugs to manage his debilitating depression became his entire existence.

Sign the Petition Below!

 On the evening of the crime, under the influence of crack cocaine, Brian faced a hostage situation due to a debt with drug dealers. After his family members, Sarah and Ben Bonnie, came to his apartment to rescue him, Brian drank heavily to mitigate both his great shame and his cocaine withdrawal, ultimately experiencing an alcohol-induced blackout. According to medical experts, Brian was experiencing drug-induced psychosis the night of the crime, from a combination of crack withdrawal, extreme intoxication, Major Depressive Disorder, sleep deprivation, and psychosocial stress.

Brian was incapable of forming the intent required for a conviction of first-degree capital murder. Missouri law requires a person to be able to deliberate and coolly reflect  in order to be convicted of first-degree murder. Brian’s psychosis made this impossible and thus should have made Brian ineligible for the death penalty.

While Brian has no recollection of the crime, it is important to emphasize that his memory lapse does not absolve him of accountability or remorse. Brian has taken full responsibility for his actions from the very beginning—he voluntarily surrendered to the police, pleaded guilty, and has carried the weight of remorse and shame every day since. The anguish he inflicted upon his loved ones continues to haunt him profoundly.

Brian has an exceptional Institutional record and the unprecedented support of corrections officials. A significant number of MoDOC officials have joined the call to urge Governor Parson to grant Brian Dorsey clemency, including the esteemed retired warden of the Potosi Correctional Center, Mr. Troy Steele (Read Here)  This is all because of the respectful person and model inmate that Brian has proven to be over the past 17 years, which he has never had a conduct violation, as well as working in the role of staff barber for well over a decade, a position gained through the trust of staff.

Brian is unique in many ways. And, as the many correctional officers who interact with him on a daily basis have said, he is uniquely deserving of mercy. Please sign and share this petition and help amplify calls for clemency.

Brian Dorsey’s “Flat Fee” legal representation proved to be ineffective. Brian was convicted of capital first-degree murder despite the fact that he was incapable of forming the required intent, because he failed to receive the representation required by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution by his court-appointed attorneys.

Brian Dorsey’s attorneys were appointed to his case and paid a flat fee of $12,000, which amounted to less than one-fifth of the current wage per hour set by the Federal Judiciary for capital defense attorneys.  These flat fee arrangements have been deemed largely inappropriate, especially in capital cases, and are prohibited in many states as leading to representation that falls far below what the Constitution requires. And this was exactly what happened in Brian’s case, where his attorneys did little to nothing to represent him, even convincing him to plead guilty to avoid the work of a guilt-phase trial, but not obtaining a deal from the state to not seek the ultimate punishment, the death penalty, in exchange for that plea. This near total absence of adequate legal representation carried over to the sentencing phase as well.

Executing Brian Dorsey serves no purpose and only creates further harm. Research has shown the use of the death penalty does nothing to contribute to public safety. Executing Brian would devastate his family, friends, and the community of correctional officers and employees who have come to know him over the past two decades of incarceration in Potosi Correctional Center.  Taking part in the death of another has unintended but real consequences for those who are required to participate. 

Please join the growing number of voices and ask Governor Parson to stop the execution of Brian Dorsey and commute his sentence to Life.

Sign and share this petition today!

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