WACO, Texas -- Carlton Dotson made a sudden change in plans
when he grew increasingly anxious about his future as his murder
trial drew closer.
The former Baylor basketball player pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing teammate Patrick Dennehy two years ago.
After months of failed attempts at a plea bargain with
prosecutors, Carlton Dotson's attorneys were ready to go to trial
Monday. But on Wednesday, Dotson suddenly pleaded guilty to murder
-- without a plea agreement -- in the death of Patrick Dennehy, who
was missing six weeks before his body was found in a field near
campus in July 2003.
His attorney Russ Hunt Sr. declined to discuss why Dotson
pleaded guilty. But he said he was confident the judge would impose
a fair sentence June 15. Dotson faces from five years to life in
"He has been very, very frightened at the prospect of going to
trial," Hunt said.
McLennan County District Attorney John Segrest said defense
attorneys approached him about a plea deal but that he never made
an offer because he was unsure how many years would be enough.
Segrest said he was surprised but pleased about Dotson's plea.
"It's a good resolution," Segrest said. "There is no question
as to guilt."
A few days before Dennehy's body was found, Dotson was arrested
in his home state of Maryland after calling authorities saying he
was hearing voices and needed help.
According to documents filed in court Wednesday, Dotson told FBI
agents that he thought people were trying to kill him because "he
is Jesus, the son of God."
Dotson, who moved in with Dennehy at the beginning of May 2003,
said he had received threatening telephone calls and that the two
bought guns for protection. Dotson said two assistant basketball
coaches refused to help him.
He told FBI agents that on June 11, he and Dennehy went to
gravel pits for target practice but that Dennehy pointed a gun at
him. When it jammed, Dotson said "Father, please forgive me," and
fired at his friend. He then went to pack his belongings, called a
relative to wire him money and drove home to Maryland, throwing the
gun in a lake along the way.
According to the autopsy reports, Dennehy, 21, was shot once
above the right ear and once behind it toward the back of the head.
Valorie Brabazon, Dennehy's mother, told The Associated Press
she was unaware that Dotson would plead guilty until a prosecutor
told her earlier Wednesday.
"I don't feel good about this whole thing," Brabazon said by
phone from the Seattle area.
Dotson was ruled incompetent to stand trial last fall and was
sent to a state mental hospital until earlier this year. A
psychologist there said Dotson had a non-specified psychotic
disorder and needed medication, but appeared to be faking hearing
voices and seeing things.
Melissa Kethley, who filed for divorce from Dotson last year
after two years of marriage, was too upset to comment, said her
mother Pam Bayuk. Dotson has remained in touch with Kethley and her
relatives, calling as recently as Tuesday, but has never discussed
the case with them, Bayuk said.
"In the back of our minds, Melissa and all of us still had hope
that he didn't do it," Bayuk said.
Interim President William D. Underwood said Dotson's plea brings
Baylor a step closer to ending a painful chapter. Underwood said he
hoped Dennehy's relatives could have closure and that he also was
praying for Dotson's family.
Dennehy's death uncovered a scandal in the Baylor basketball program that led to the resignations of head coach Dave Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton and self-imposed sanctions, including
a ban from postseason competition in 2003-04.
A Baylor probe discovered that Bliss improperly paid up to
$40,000 in tuition for two players, including Dennehy; the coaching
staff didn't report players' failed drug tests; and Bliss lied to
investigators in trying to cover up his misdeeds.