When Brian Brabazon, the stepfather of slain Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy, found out that Dennehy's former teammate, Carlton Dotson, had pleaded guilty to killing Dennehy, he immediately began searching for words. He wanted to convey the emptiness he and his family have felt since Dennehy's body was discovered in a field of weeds in Waco, Texas, on July 25, 2003, with two bullet holes in the head. He also wanted to persuade district judge Ralph Strother to sentence Dotson, 23, to jail for the rest of his life.
Brabazon was scheduled to testify at Wednesday's sentencing hearing for Dotson, who on June 8--five days before his trial was scheduled to begin--informed Strother that he was pleading guilty, even though he had not made a deal with prosecutors. "He has been very, very frightened at the prospect of going to trial," Dotson's lawyer, Russ Hunt Sr., said. In the summer of 2003 Dotson confessed to FBI agents that he shot Dennehy but claimed he acted in self-defense. He also said that voices in his head told him people were trying to kill him because he was "Jesus, the son of God." He was initially found unfit to stand trial and last November was sent to a mental hospital in Vernon, Texas, where a doctor suspected he was faking hearing the voices.
The plea left Brabazon with mixed feelings--satisfied that Dotson had confessed but longing to know his motive. "There are only two things I want in my life," says Brabazon. "One is the truth of why he killed Patrick and the other is life in prison for Carlton. I don't want to see him walk this earth. He should save the taxpayers of Texas money and use that bedsheet to hang himself." Brabazon keeps one of his stepson's jerseys and several pictures under glass in his Carson City, Nev., home, and every month he and Dennehy's 16-year-old sister, Wynn, drive five hours each way to the San Jose cemetery where Dennehy is buried. After he testifies at the sentencing hearing and the case is closed, he and his family face what might be their hardest task: moving on. Says Brabazon, "Patrick wouldn't want us to stop living." --Melissa Segura
ROD AYDELOTTE/WACO TRIBUNE HERALD/AP (DOTSON)
Dotson said he fought with Dennehy (top), then claimed he heard voices.
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY/AP (DENNEHY)
[see caption above]