Dotson nixes attorneys from extradition fight

Updated: November 21, 2003, 3:59 PM ET
Associated Press

WACO, Texas -- A former Baylor University basketball player accused of killing an ex-teammate decided Friday to keep his court-appointed attorneys for his murder trial.

Sherwood Wescott and Purcell Luke, of Salisbury, Md., and Kenneth Weatherspoon, of Dallas had sought to replace the Waco attorneys for Carlton Dotson, 21. Wescott and Luke were hired to represent Dotson while he fought extradition from his home state of Maryland to Texas.

Dotson is accused of shooting Patrick Dennehy, 21, in June in a field near a rock quarry 5 miles from the Baylor campus. When Dennehy's body was found six weeks later, an autopsy revealed two gunshot wounds in the head.

During a five-minute hearing Friday, state District Judge George Allen asked Dotson if he wanted to keep attorneys Russ Hunt Sr. and Abel Reyna. Dotson said yes.

"That's his choice," Wescott said Friday. "The family did retain our services. Even though you're hired by the family, it is up to the defendant."

Dotson, who was arrested July 21 in Maryland, faces from five years to life in prison if convicted.

During Dotson's first court appearance in Texas on Oct. 29, the day after he was transported from Maryland, he signed a pauper's oath indicating he had no money. The judge then appointed Hunt and Reyna.

Two weeks later, the Maryland attorneys filed a motion seeking to represent Dotson.

Neither Wescott nor Luke is licensed to practice law in Texas, but they could have become licensed by filing an application and paying a fee. Weatherspoon has practiced criminal law in Texas for 17 years.

Reyna said he and Hunt have established a relationship with Dotson and that their familiarity with the Texas court system may have influenced Dotson's decision. Hunt said they spoke to Dotson briefly after the hearing.

"He said he thought he made the right decision," Hunt said.

Meanwhile, Dennehy's mother and stepfather plan to file a lawsuit against Baylor before year's end.

Brian Brabazon, the player's stepfather, said the family has been in counseling and is still grieving.

"It's getting tough now because this would be the time that we would be planning Patrick's trip home for the holidays," said Brabazon, who lives in Carson City, Nev.

The slain player's father, Patrick Dennehy Sr., who lives in Washington state, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baylor, Bliss, former athletic director Tom Stanton, president Robert Sloan and others. Dennehy Sr. had been estranged from his son until a few years before the athlete's death.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges Dennehy was trying to expose wrongdoing in the university's basketball program when "violent threats" were made against him, leading up to his slaying.

After Dennehy's death, questions surfaced about possible NCAA violations and the school launched a probe. Baylor officials discovered that Bliss was involved in improper tuition payments for Dennehy and another player and that the coaching staff did not properly report some players' failed drug tests.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press