Monday, February 23, 2009

Family Members Make Emotional Pleas During Sentencing In Death Penalty Case

The families of both a convicted killer and his victim made emotional pleas to a jury Thursday.That jury is deciding whether Michael Sherrill should die for raping and killing Cynthia Dotson at her west Charlotte home 25 years ago. Sherrill then set the home on fire to try to destroy the evidence.The jury will begin deliberating its decision Friday. They found Sherrill guilty of first-degree murder, rape and arson late Wednesday afternoon.

Jurors have a lot to consider. In the fifth-floor courtroom, Dotson’s brother, John, told jurors her death devastated the whole family.But Sherrill’s family spoke out to save his life. They said in the years before Dotson was found stabbed to death in her Wilkinson Boulevard trailer, Sherrill's life was out of control with gambling and drugs.But by 1991, they said, Sherrill was sober with a steady job."He straightened up, became a real good person," his brother, Keith Sherrill, told jurors.But during the trial, jurors also heard about another 1984 crime that Sherrill is charged with -- a triple slaying that took place in a Charlotte house where Linda Taylor, Jackson Bostic and his daughter, Amy, were found beaten to death.Amy's sister, April Bostic, said she is now able to finally find justice.“They say, you know, Michael made changes. Well, good for him. But my dad didn't get that chance and I don't get a chance to hang out with my sister. My kids don't have an aunt,” she said.The jury cannot use the triple slaying to determine Sherrill’s sentence.In closing arguments, Sherrill's attorneys said their client had a troubled childhood, but that they don't know why he killed Dotson.Prosecutors made only a brief argument, saying the case deserves a sentence of death. One prosecutor banged his fist into his hand 13 times, once for each stab wound Dotson suffered.

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