Kent Co. court rules Dotson can be held while case proceeds

THE BALTIMORE SUN

CHESTERTOWN - A Kent County judge ruled yesterday that Carlton Dotson can remain in jail for up to 60 more days while authorities build their case to have him extradited to Texas, where he is accused of killing a basketball teammate at Baylor University.

During yesterday's eight-minute district court hearing, the prosecution said a Texas grand jury is hearing testimony and is expected to indict Dotson on murder charges within a week or so. The indictment, prosecutors said, will help bolster their case to extradite Dotson.

Dotson's three attorneys at the hearing did not challenge the request for him to remain in jail. The 21-year-old former Eastern Shore basketball standout wore an orange jumpsuit with pant legs rolled to mid-calf, orange canvas shoes without laces, and shackles on his wrists and ankles. The chains clanked as he sat on wooden benches.

Dotson clutched a Bible. He did not speak. His 6-foot-7 frame appeared to carry far less than his listed playing weight of 220 pounds. While waiting for District Court Judge Floyd L. Parks to enter the cozy second-floor courtroom, Dotson stared at the wall opposite him for several minutes at a time.

Unless Dotson waives his right to an extradition hearing - and his attorneys have said they will not do that - he will receive a governor's hearing. Maryland and South Carolina require such hearings. They are held by Assistant Attorney General Stuart G. Buppert, who then makes his recommendation to the governor regarding extradition. It's rare that he does not recommend extradition, he said yesterday.

Grady Irvin Jr. - Dotson's St. Petersburg, Fla., attorney who did not attend yesterday's routine hearing - told The Sun in a phone interview yesterday that he intends to fight extradition on the grounds that Dotson's confession last month to police was obtained improperly while the basketball player was mentally unstable.

"[Whether] it is a violation of Carlton's rights to have his plea for medical attention turned into an interrogation is a question I believe to be of great interest to the State of Maryland," he said.

The judge cautioned the prosecution yesterday that Dotson, who was arrested July 21, cannot be held more than 90 days without being extradited.

"Ninety days is it," Parks said. "Ninety days and they don't get it [extradition paperwork] in here, he walks. That's how it goes."

The Hurlock native and former North Dorchester High star could, however, be rearrested, Chestertown Police Chief Walter T. Coryell said after the hearing.

Chestertown police arrested Dotson on a Texas warrant that he killed his former roommate, Patrick Dennehy, near Waco. On July 20, Dotson called 911 from a Chestertown grocery store and said he heard voices. After spending hours under observation in a hospital, he asked to talk to the FBI and the next day was charged. Days later, Dennehy's body was found near a gravel pit in Texas with two gunshot wounds to the head. Dotson could face the death penalty.

Since Dotson's arrest, the basketball program at his former school has begun to crumble amid charges that students received improper payments. The coach and athletic director resigned Aug. 8. Coach Dave Bliss was reportedly caught on tape orchestrating a plan to portray Dennehy as a drug dealer.

Dotson's attorneys held a news conference behind the historic courthouse yesterday but declined to discuss much about the case or anything about Bliss' or Dotson's mental state. Four of his family members in attendance, including his mother, also declined to talk.

But Dotson has been struggling, Irvin told The Sun. He has at times been under suicide watch at Kent County Detention Center, Irvin said. The center issued Dotson paper bedsheets.

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