Dawson pleads guilty in death of neighbor

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NATCHEZ — Pamela Barrios only wants one thing from the man who has now admitted to killing her son — an answer.

“I want to know what reason he had for killing my son,” she told the court Monday during a plea hearing. “I’d just like to know why he did it.”

Anthony “Tony” Eugene Dawson, 61, didn’t answer Barrios Monday. But his attorneys said he will at his sentencing later this month.

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Dawson pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter in the March 6, 2007, shooting death of William “Willie” Durwood Turner, 26.

Dawson was originally arrested on two counts, murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Assistant District Attorney Walt Brown waived the firearm charge Monday and accepted the plea to the lesser offense of manslaughter.

Dawson had little to say in court, only saying that he had shot Turner.

Turner reportedly lived next door to Dawson with Dawson’s daughter, Tonya, for 10 years.

The couple was raising three children.

Disputes between Dawson, Turner and Tonya Dawson were common, police said after the incident. On the night of Turner’s death, an argument started, and Dawson reportedly went to his own house, retrieved his gun and went back to Turner’s house.

Dawson allegedly shot Turner at Turner’s house.

Sheriff’s deputies refrained from charging Dawson on the night of the shooting because he was too intoxicated to talk, they said. He was charged the next day.

In court Monday, Dawson said he was taking medicine prescribed by a mental health doctor.

His attorneys, Patricia Dunmore and Carmen Brooks, asked that sentencing be delayed in part for a mental evaluation.

Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders agreed to set sentencing for either Jan. 29 or 30.

Dunmore also asked for a pre-sentencing investigation and said she was working to get her client an appointment with a mental health professional.

Dawson, who has been out of jail on bond for months, will remain out until the sentencing.

The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 20 years with the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Barrios said 20 years would be appropriate.

“I have nightmares about this all the time,” she said after the hearing. “It’s been really hard on our family.”

Barrios’ only living son, Joseph Turner III of Vidalia, said he would leave the sentencing up to the judge.

“It isn’t going to bring William back,” Turner said. “My brother had to face the worst kind of judgment.”