Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Roommate arrested in Dennehy case

Dotson charged with murder

The Associated Press

CHESTERTOWN, Md. - The former roommate of missing Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy was charged Monday with murder, authorities said.

The warrant naming Carlton Dotson was issued by police in Waco, Texas, where Dennehy has been missing since mid-June, Chestertown Police Chief Walter Coryell said. No body has been found.

Sgt. Ryan Holt, a Waco police spokesman, told The Dallas Morning News that Dotson confessed to killing Dennehy and described a location where Dennehy's body might be found. He told the newspaper that police were searching that location Monday night, but declined to elaborate.

Law enforcement sources in Texas and Maryland told the Waco Tribune-Herald in Tuesday's editions that they have a "general location" in McLennan County, Texas.

As he left the court commissioner's office Monday night, Dotson told a reporter: "I didn't confess to anything. Call the FBI." Shortly after his arrest, Dotson had referred all questions to his lawyer.

Dotson's attorney, Grady Irvin Jr., said in a telephone interview that he had last spoken with his client over the weekend. He would not say what they discussed.

"It is most unfortunate that police have come to the conclusion that there is a death," Irvin said. "I am uncertain as to how they came to that conclusion, that Patrick Dennehy is now dead."

Two officers escorted Dotson, in handcuffs, into the police station about 9:20 p.m. He emerged about 15 minutes later with Coryell, another officer and an FBI agent.

Dotson, 21, was fingerprinted and processed at the police department, Coryell said. He was then taken to the Kent County court commissioner's office, where he was ordered held without bond at the county jail.

Dotson was to have another hearing Tuesday. If he waives extradition, he will be returned to Texas, Coryell said.

Holt said in a statement that Dotson contacted authorities in Maryland and said he wanted to talk to the FBI about Dennehy's disappearance. He said his department would not comment further until a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Waco.

Baylor speech communication professor John Cunningham said Dotson called him Monday evening and announced: "I wanted to let you know that I've turned myself in to the FBI," The Dallas Morning News reported Monday in its online edition.

He said Dotson sounded upset and confused and asked Cunningham, who taught both players, to have "everyone pray for me so I can have safe passage wherever I go from here."

Coryell said Dotson was in Chestertown, about 55 miles from his hometown of Hurlock, on Sunday when he called police from a grocery store.

"He said he needed help," Coryell said. "We took him to the hospital for an evaluation. During his stay there he contacted the FBI."

The police chief said Dotson stayed overnight at a Chestertown hospital, then left early Monday afternoon with FBI agents.

He was interviewed by the FBI and "as a result of that interview, this warrant has been issued," the chief said. He declined to elaborate on Dotson's statement and calls to the FBI were not immediately returned.

Irvin said he did not know what Dotson told authorities.

"I don't know if the arrest warrant is based on statements he (Dotson) made or information gathered through law enforcement agencies and their investigations," Irvin said. "I'm sure that when I read the warrant, I am 100 percent certain that there will be information not previously available to my office."

Irvin, of St. Petersburg, Fla., said he would probably arrive in Baltimore on Tuesday and travel to Chestertown to meet with Dotson.

Last Thursday, Dotson voluntarily went to the Dorchester County sheriff's office near Hurlock to make a statement about Dennehy's disappearance. He was never in custody and was not arrested, leaving the office with his high school basketball coach.

Waco police declined to discuss what Dotson told authorities last week, saying only that it did not change the course of their investigation.

Dotson returned home to Maryland last month. A woman who answered the door at the home in Hurlock that Dotson shares with his great-grandparents said the couple had gone to bed. When told by a reporter Dotson had been charged with murder, she said "you know more than we know" before closing the door.

Dennehy's girlfriend, Jessica De La Rosa, choked back tears Monday night after she learned Dotson was charged with killing Dennehy.

"I was really, truly hoping in my heart that he was alive somewhere out there," said De La Rosa, 20, of Albuquerque, N.M. "I was hoping maybe he'd be hiding."

"Carlton was lucky enough to have known Patrick and let Patrick take him under his wing, give him a place to live and this is how Patrick was repaid," Brian Brabazon, Dennehy's stepfather told KWTX-TV in Waco.

Baylor athletic director Tom Stanton issued a statement saying, "We are struggling to find the right words and actions that would ease the pain of everyone connected to Patrick. ... There are no words to describe our grief or our feelings right now."

Dennehy's Chevrolet Tahoe was found June 25 in a strip mall parking lot in Virginia Beach, Va.

Authorities said Friday they were trying to determine if a 9mm handgun found Thursday at a Waco apartment complex near Baylor was related to Dennehy's disappearance.

According to an earlier search warrant affidavit, an unidentified informant reported to Delaware authorities that Dotson told a cousin he shot Dennehy as the two argued while shooting 9mm guns in the Waco area.

Some of Dennehy's friends say he told them that he and Dotson were being threatened and that they obtained guns. The family of Dennehy, who grew up in the San Francisco area, claimed the 6-foot-10, 230-pound center told coaches he feared for his life.

Baylor head coach Dave Bliss has repeatedly said he and his staff were not aware of any threats. Bliss did not immediately return telephone calls Monday night.

Dotson lost his basketball scholarship this spring and was not expected to play at Baylor next season.

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