60 Missouri corrections officers, staffers urging governor to halt execution of ‘model inmate’

Jan 22, 2024, 10:27 AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Dozens of Missouri Department of Corrections staff members are urging Gov. Mike Parson to grant clemency to a man scheduled to die in April for killing his cousin and her husband, with a former warden calling him a “model inmate.”

Sixty corrections officers and other staff members signed onto a letter to the Republican governor in support of Brian Dorsey, the Kansas City Star reported Monday. The letter says Dorsey, 51, “has stayed out of trouble, never gotten himself into any situations, and been respectful of us and of his fellow inmates.” It says he is housed in an “honor dorm” at the Potosi Correctional Center, a housing area for inmates with good conduct.

“We are part of the law enforcement community who believe in law and order,” the group wrote in the letter urging Parson to commute the sentence to life without parole. “Generally, we believe in the use of capital punishment. But we are in agreement that the death penalty is not the appropriate punishment for Brian Dorsey.”

Dorsey was convicted in the 2006 killings of his cousin, Sarah Bonnie, and her husband, Ben Bonnie, in the central Missouri town of New Bloomfield. His scheduled execution on April 9 would be the first in Missouri this year after four were carried out in 2023.

A message seeking comment was left Monday with a spokesman for Parson.

Troy Steele, a former warden at Potosi, wrote in a review of Dorsey’s prison record that he was a “model inmate” — so much so that he’s allowed to serve as a barber. Steele said Dorsey has cut hair for prisoners, officers and even Steele, himself.

Dorsey’s execution also is opposed by his cousin, Jenni Gerhauser, who was also related to Sarah Bonnie.

“We’re very much living in the middle of eye-for-an-eye country. But I wish people would understand it’s not that black and white,” she told the newspaper.

In an 80-page petition filed last month, Megan Crane, an attorney for Dorsey, wrote that her client was denied effective counsel before he pleaded guilty. She also said Dorsey was “experiencing drug psychosis the night of the crime and thus incapable of deliberation — the requisite intent for capital murder.”

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60 Missouri corrections officers, staffers urging governor to halt execution of ‘model inmate’