WACO, Texas - Former Baylor basketball player Carlton Dotson was led off to prison for 35 years Wednesday to shouts from the stepfather of his murdered best friend and teammate, who held up a framed picture of his son and yelled: “Remember him! Remember his face!”
“You, Carlton Dotson, are a killer, a sinner of the worst degree, and may you never forget what you did,” Brian Brabazon said during the sentencing, at times glaring and pointing at Dotson as his voice rose to a shout.
Dotson showed no emotion. Valorie Brabazon, the mother of victim Patrick Dennehy, sat in the front row sobbing as her teenage daughter tried to comfort her. She said afterward that the family would attend all parole board hearings and urge that Dotson “doesn’t walk the streets again.”
Dotson, 23, pleaded guilty last week to killing the 21-year-old Dennehy, whose body was found in 2003 in a field where the two best friends had gone to shoot targets. The case against Dotson shocked the Baptist school and led to a scandal in the basketball program.
Dotson was arrested at his home in Maryland, a few days before the body was found, after calling authorities to say he was hearing voices. He told authorities where to look for the corpse of the 6-foot-10 Dennehy, who dreamed of playing in the NBA.
He told authorities that he and Dennehy, his roommate, bought guns for protection after receiving threatening phone calls. Investigators said Dotson told them he thought people were trying to kill him because “he is Jesus, the son of God.”
He told FBI agents that Dennehy pointed a gun at him after the pair went to a gravel pit for target practice, and he shot Dennehy in self-defense after Dennehy’s gun jammed. The autopsy did not support his self-defense claim, saying Dennehy was shot twice: once above the right ear and once toward the back of the head.
Dotson could have gotten life in prison. He will be eligible for parole after serving about half of the sentence.
Dotson’s mother, Gilreatha Stoltzfus, shook hands with Dennehy’s relatives in the courtroom Wednesday and said she had urged him to plead guilty.
Dennehy’s slaying led to an internal investigation at Baylor that found that coach Dave Bliss improperly personally paid up to $40,000 in tuition for Dennehy and another player, and that the coaching staff did not report players’ failed drug tests.
It also found that Bliss asked players and an assistant coach to lie to investigators by saying Dennehy paid his own tuition by dealing drugs.
Bliss and Baylor’s athletic director resigned and the school barred itself from postseason competition in 2003-04.
After the sentencing, Brian Brabazon called Dotson an “instrument of the devil” and said he hopes Dotson never gets out of prison.
“Carlton, Patrick was someone who cared for you, who you laughed with, who was there by your side,” Brabazon said.
Last fall, Dotson was found incompetent to stand trial and was sent to a mental hospital. He was returned to jail in February after a hospital psychologist said Dotson was competent but must continue to take anti-psychotic medication. The psychologist said Dotson’s accounts of hearing voices and seeing things were “suspect.”
A few weeks before Dotson’s plea, his attorneys decided not to pursue an insanity defense.
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