Jury finds shooter guilty; Man convicted of second-degree murder

Published 12:13 am Thursday, October 30, 2014

VIDALIA — The most shocking part of Vincent Dotson’s murder trial for Angela McGraw-Booker was hearing how her son died living out lessons she taught him.

A Concordia Parish jury convicted Dotson, 21, of second-degree murder after 22 minutes of deliberation Wednesday.

During testimony given during the trial, witnesses said Derec Dobbins, 24, had approached Dotson in an attempt to find out why Dotson seemingly had a problem with him even though he did not have a problem with Dotson.

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As Dotson started walking away, Dobbins followed him and finally asked if he wanted a hug. That was when, witnesses said, Dotson pulled a gun from his pocket and shot Dobbins in the chest.

“My rule with my children when they were growing up was if you have a disagreement, fix it,” Booker said. “And at the end of the argument, they had to hug.”

Dobbins was trying to fix a problem, she said.

“It was so ironic to me that the things I taught him led into what ended his life,” she said.

Witnesses at the trial said Dotson would often join Dobbins and his group of friends at social gatherings, but had become convinced in the past year Dobbins had set him up in a dog-trading arrangement in which he felt he had been poorly treated.

The witnesses said Dobbins had nothing to do with the situation.

When appealing to the jury for a second-degree murder conviction rather than an alternative return, District Attorney Brad Burget said who killed Dobbins was never in question because two eyewitness had been able to describe the shooting to the court.

“We know exactly who committed this crime and not only did he do it in the presence of one person who knew him but two people,” he said.

“He was walking away from Mr. Dobbins, Mr. Dobbins got on his nerves, he got frustrated and — pew — ended (Dobbins’) life.

“Grown adults can walk away and say, ‘I don’t want to hear what you have to say today.’ He walked away a few feet, but then, he pulled out his pistol.”

Dotson’s attorney, William Yarborough, asked the jury to consider returning a manslaughter verdict instead, reminding jurors testimony from witnesses who said sometimes Dotson was OK and sometimes acted weird.

Dotson was known to carry a handgun in his backpack, Yarbourgh said.

But that night, Dobbins walked with Dotson and asked him several times why he had a problem with Dobbins and why he sometimes acted threatened by Dobbins and his friends.

“I don’t know if Mr. Dobbins would have followed (Dotson) if he had his backpack, but he continued to follow Mr. Dotson and ask uncomfortable questions,” he said.

“(The testimony) all indicates Mr. Dotson is not right. He had good days and bad days, and I don’t know why, but this was a bad day, and that night something wasn’t right.”

Yarbrough said based on the testimony that Dotson had rubbed his head before pulling the gun, one could infer he was confused.

“I seriously doubt Mr. Dotson knew what was going on when he pulled the trigger,” he said.

Burget responded that the evidence didn’t support such a conclusion.

“The testimony I heard was Mr. Dobbins was trying to defuse a conflict,” Burget said.

“‘I am going to kill you because you want to have a conversation I don’t want to have’ — that is the defense.”

Burget said that while Dotson had been characterized as “acting pissed off at the world,” Dobbins was “a nice guy.”

“He was a guy who liked to go out and work, a big-hearted guy who wasn’t going to go out looking for trouble. When he wasn’t working, hunting or fishing, he was playing with his nieces and nephews.”

Dobbins shouldn’t have followed Dotson down the nearby alley that early morning, Burget said.

“But he wasn’t that kind of guy,” he said. “He wanted to resolve the problem.”

Booker said she hates to see another family lose their son — Dotson faces a mandatory life sentence under Louisiana law — but it is the consequence of his actions.

And while her son died tragically, Booker said she chooses to remember him as the charismatic personality who was loved by the young and old alike, and who made everybody feel like they were special.

“Derec was a good person, kind and generous,” she said. “I won’t say he was the best person in the world, but he was the best in my world and in a lot of people’s worlds.

“I didn’t know anybody who didn’t love him.”

Dotson’s formal sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 12 in Seventh Judicial District Court in Vidalia.