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Missouri to execute man who murdered his cousin and her husband, governor says


A man convicted of murdering his cousin and her husband after they brought him to safety when he told them that drug dealers were at his door will be executed Tuesday, Missouri’s governor said.

Brian Dorsey, 51, requested clemency, but Gov. Mike Parson on Monday affirmed the state Supreme Court-ordered sanction, with his office saying in a statement that it is “an appropriate and legal sentence for his heinous crimes.”

On Dec. 23, 2006, Dorsey grabbed his cousin’s shotgun and fatally shot her and her husband in their Callaway County residence. Sarah Bonnie and Ben Bonnie drove him to the home for the night after he asked for her help, saying drug dealers were at his door demanding he cover debts, according to the case record.

The couple’s 4-year-old daughter was in the home, but she was not physically harmed, the record states.

“Brian Dorsey punished his loving family for helping him in a time of need,” Parson said in Monday’s statement.

He continued: “The pain Dorsey brought to others can never be rectified, but carrying out Dorsey’s sentence according to Missouri law and the Court’s order will deliver justice and provide closure.”

Dorsey pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, and a jury took up the matter of sentencing in 2008.

He later argued that the state’s flat fee payment to his otherwise private lawyers resulted in an insufficient defense. His defense also included the assertion that he was experiencing drug-induced psychosis the night of the slayings.

A clinical psychologist for the defense recited a history for Dorsey that included mental health issues, suicide attempts and drug addiction, according to the Missouri Supreme Court’s affirmation of his sentence in March.

Brian Dorsey.
Brian Dorsey.Missouri Dept. of Corrections via AP

But that jury weighing his fate found seven aggravating factors that led it to endorse execution for Dorsey, according to the Supreme Court.

Dorsey challenged his government-ordered fate multiple times, including by filing two writ of habeas corpus challenges with the Missouri Supreme Court, which has denied all his appeals. He also mounted challenges in federal court, but the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear them.

In December, the state Supreme Court set an execution date of April 9, 2024. The state is expected to use lethal injection.

Dorsey’s plight found unusual support in January, when dozens of Missouri Department of Corrections employees urged Parson to grant clemency to the double murderer, behind bars for 17 years.

Troy Steele, the former warden at Potosi Correctional Center, where Dorsey has been housed, described him in a review as a “model inmate” and said he was allowed to work as a barber — even cutting the warden’s own hair.

The officers were joined by some family members, including cousin Jenni Gerhauser, in opposing the murderer’s execution.

“Generally, we believe in the use of capital punishment,” corrections officers said in a letter to the governor. “But we are in agreement that the death penalty is not the appropriate punishment for Brian Dorsey.”

The Missouri Corrections Officers Association and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Execution is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. local time, according to NBC News affiliate KOMU of Columbia.


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