Convicted killer fights death sentence

Brian Dorsey appealing to the Missouri Supreme Court Wednesday

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Lawyers for a convicted mid-Missouri killer are fighting for their client's life.

In 2008 Brian Dorsey pleaded guilty to shooting and killing his cousin and her husband. The murders happened on Christmas Eve 2006 near New Bloomfield.

Dorsey was sentenced to death twice, prompting an automatic Missouri Supreme Court appeal. It was denied and Dorsey then appealed to a circuit court.

Wednesday his lawyers argued to have his death sentences overturned, saying he should spend life in prison.

Dorsey's defense argued before seven state Supreme Court judges Wednesday that DNA evidence from his female cousin's body could have ruled out the claim Dorsey raped her while killing her.

"Had it been presented to the jury, there's a reasonable probability that they would have discounted severely the allegations of rape," said defense attorney Kent Denzel.

Denzel argued Dorsey would not have pleaded guilty in 2008 had he known that electronic DNA evidence would show possibilities that his DNA was not the only present in the victim.

But assistant state attorney general Shaun Mackelprang said it did not matter because of the guilty plea and because the original defense counsel never had an expert examine the DNA and testing.

"[Dorsey] never took the stand during the evidentiary hearing, he never testified and said 'well if counsel had told me this or had told me this evidence existed or that we could consider this defense, I would have pleaded guilty,'" said Mackelprang. "That's critical because the decision to plead guilty in any case belongs solely to the defendant."

Mackelprang called the original counsel's lack of investigation into the DNA testing a scheme to hide the emotion associated with the rape, which both lawyers agreed helped lead to the death sentences.

A handful of Sarah and Ben Bonnie's family were in the courtroom, silently crying during a lengthy discussion about the state of Sarah's body after the murder. The state has argued in the past that Dorsey poured something, possibly bleach, over her body to cover up the rape.

One family member told ABC 17 News after the arguments that hearing about the double murders will never get easier and they worry it will continue to drag on.

The state Supreme Court can now affirm a circuit court ruling keeping both death sentences or reverse it and send the case back to a lower court for another hearing.

There is no timeline for when the justices will make a decision in the case.

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