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State v. Dotson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

October 3, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
MATTHEW R. DOTSON

          APPEAL FROM THE THIRTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF VERNON, NO. 88892 HONORABLE VERNON BRUCE CLARK, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Asa A. Skinner, District Attorney Terry W. Lambright, Assistant District Attorney COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana

          Mary Constance Hanes Louisiana Appellate Project COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Matthew R. Dotson

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, John D. Saunders, and Elizabeth A. Pickett, Judges.

          SYLVIA R. COOKS JUDGE.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Defendant, Matthew Dotson, lived with the victims in this case, his girlfriend, Misty Marshall, and her nine-year-old son, Day-Min. Also residing in that home was their daughter, toddler Zinlee Dotson, as well as Ms. Marshall's teenage daughter, Jasmine Moses. At the end of the Thanksgiving 2015 break for school, the children got their school gear together and the family had supper. Day-min and Jasmine each went to bed. When Jasmine woke up the next day, she noticed her mother and brother were not present, and the living room appeared to be in disarray.

         When Jasmine saw Defendant, he appeared flustered and was repeatedly going outside and coming back inside. He told Jasmine that they had to pack and leave, and also told her that her mother and Day-Min were in Shreveport. The teenager packed for herself and her younger sister. Defendant then removed the gaming systems and video games. When Jasmine took Zinlee out of her playpen and went outside, she saw their mother's corpse on the ground, wrapped in blue bubble wrap. Defendant tried to load the body into his truck with an engine hoist; when that didn't work, he told Jasmine that she had to help him load the body. Jasmine stated Defendant threatened her and told her he had killed her mother and brother. Defendant was armed with a pistol. Eventually, they drove down a logging trail, put her mother's body in a ditch and put a piece of plywood over it. After that, they drove to a GameStop, where Defendant sold the gaming systems and games. They then left the state.

         Ms. Marshall's mother became concerned after not hearing from her and contacted police. During the subsequent investigation, police located Day-Min's corpse in a car in the backyard of the residence.

          On February 11, 2016, a Vernon Parish grand jury indicted Defendant on two counts of first degree murder, in violation of La.R.S. 14:30. On September 18 and 19, 2017, a jury was selected. Trial began on September 20, and after a two day trial, the jury found Defendant guilty as charged.

         On October 30, 2017, the district court sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment for each count. Defendant now seeks review by this court, asserting two assignments of error. For the following reasons, we affirm Defendant's convictions and sentences.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1

         In his first assignment of error, Defendant argues the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to support his convictions for first degree murder. He claims the State lacked any physical evidence linking him to the crimes and the case was wholly based on circumstantial evidence. His chief argument is that the State did not establish his identity as the killer.

         This court, in State v. Giles, 04-359, pp. 9-10 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/6/04), 884 So.2d 1233, 1240-41, writ denied, 04-2756 (La. 3/11/05), 896 ...


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