Dawson gets 10 years for 2007 manslaughter

Published 11:51 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NATCHEZ — A victim, a witness and a daughter — Tonya Roberts is all of those when she considers the sentence her father was handed for his role in the death of 26-year-old William “Willie” Durwood Turner.

And none of those roles makes her feel any less devastated.

“This incident was the ruination of my family and my father,” she said.

Email newsletter signup

Anthony “Tony” Eugene Dawson, 61, was booked into the Adams County jail Monday after Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders handed down a 10-year jail sentence, of which Dawson must serve five years.

The second five years of the sentence were suspended, but during that time Dawson will be on supervised release.

One of the conditions of the sentence Sanders handed down was that Dawson would have to receive some kind of alcohol treatment.

The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 20 years.

On the night of March 6, 2007, Dawson became involved in an argument with Turner, who had lived next-door to him with Tonya Dawson for 10 years.

Anthony Dawson then went back to his house, got a gun and returned to Turner’s house before shooting him dead.

He was arrested that night but was not charged until the next day because he was reportedly too drunk to speak, authorities said at the time.

Tonya Dawson said that the sentence hurt her and her children because it was going to put Anthony Dawson in jail but it wasn’t going to bring Turner back.

Tonya Dawson said what sparked the events that led to the killing was her father witnessing the sometimes violent domestic turmoil she had kept hidden from him.

“I lived in 10 years of abuse, but I loved William and I hid a lot of things from my dad for 10 years because I didn’t want to hurt him,” she said.

That night, though, Dawson saw the abuse.

“He didn’t come over there with any intention of killing William,” Tonya Dawson said. “He has told me over and over, ‘I was just trying to get William out of the house and away from you and make him go on down the road.’”

The two men had had good times together, and both loved her children, Tonya Dawson said.

“I loved (Turner) with all my heart,” she said. “He was my baby’s daddy and he was a superdad, but it was hard between me and him,” she said.

“My daddy was our backbone. My kids are suffering.”

Dawson was initially charged with murder and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon following Turner’s death, to which he pleaded not guilty in July 2007.

On Jan. 13, however, he appeared before the Adams County Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. The weapons charge was dismissed.

Taking the manslaughter route made the most sense when the state considered that their case was built on statements from Dawson’s wife and daughter, District Attorney Ronnie Harper said.

“That put (his wife and daughter) in a very strange situation, and they had mixed feelings about which side they needed to help,” Harper said. “We felt like the plea was appropriate as a result of those circumstances, and once that is done it is up to the judge to determine what is appropriate.”

In the end, though, there is no happy outcome to the situation, Tonya Dawson said.

“Too many lives have been ruined,” she said.