Also killed boy, forced sister to help hide mom's body, state claims

The state contends Matthew Dotson murdered his fiance when she discovered him molesting her nine-year-old son in their Simpson home, then killed the boy when he was through with him. The defense says that is conjecture and doesn’t meet the standard of proof.

Testimony in Dotson’s trial on two counts of first-degree murder began Tuesday afternoon in 30th Judicial District Judge Vernon B. Clark’s court.

Dotson is accused of killing Misty Marshall, 32, and her son Day-Min, 9, on Nov. 29-30, 2015 by crushing their skulls with a mallet. 

Asst. DA Lee Hall, Jr. told the jury of nine women and three men that the mother and son died by blunt force trauma, adding underwear jammed down the boy’s throat also caused asphyxiation.

He asserted the child’s legs, arms, wrists and head were wrapped in duct tape at the time.

The state claims Dotson put the child’s body in a dilapidated vehicle on the Acorn Drive property, where it was discovered about two weeks later, overlooked in law enforcement’s initial response to a missing persons report from Marshall’s mother, Tracy Casas.

Dotson then tried, the state contends, to lift Marshall’s body into his pickup truck after wrapping it in sheets and bubble wrap. He was unsuccessful.

Marshall’s 14-year-old daughter and the couple’s two-year-old daughter were sleeping in the opposite end of the trailer. When the teenager awakened and asked about her mother, the state claims, Dotson said she had gone to Shreveport.

When the daughter, Jasmine, walked outside, the state says, she discovered her mother laid out and attached to an engine hoist.

Dotson then threatened her with a gun, the state alleges, telling her to help load the body in the truck or meet the same end.

She put the toddler in a car seat, then, in fear of her life according to Hall, helped put the mother’s body in the truck and cover it with bags of clothes and old plywood. 

At that point, Dotson allegedly drove them to La. 1211 near New Llano, where they dragged the body into a creek bed and covered it with a board.

Then began an odyssey which took Dotson and the two children to an aunt’s house in Maryland, a cousin’s in South Carolina and his father’s home in Georgia. 

Eventually, the state says, Angela Dodson drove to get her son and the children in Georgia and bring them to her New Llano home, where he was eventually arrested Dec. 17 after Day-Min’s body was found. Shortly thereafter, the mother’s body was discovered.

Ray Ortiz, who was chief detective in the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office at the time, testified Tuesday afternoon as to the sequence of events in the investigation. In the months since the crime, he has retired from the SO and joined the DA’s Office as an investigator.

On the first day of follow up on the missing persons report, Ortiz said, investigators were told by Angela Dodson to speak to her attorney when he asked if she knew where her son was. When he returned to his office, he found a letter from an attorney advising authorities to contact the attorney before any communication with all parties involved - including Jasmine.

At that point, Ortiz said, he began to think “there was a problem” in the disappearance of the mother and daughter.

Defense attorney Bob Noel reiterated through questions of Ortiz that the state has no direct evidence of what happened in the home, only circumstantial evidence that could, or could not, mean what the state alleges it means.

Preceding Ortiz on the state was Casas, who reviewed concerns which eventually led to her filing the missing persons report. She said she talked to her daughter on Thanksgiving.

 Four days later, she said, she sent Misty a text message “to see how they were doing.” The response, she testified, was apparently from her daughter’s phone but, she didn’t think, from her.

She went to the Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 4, after not hearing from Misty and learning that Day-Min had not been in school.

Testimony resumes Wednesday. Indications are it is expected to conclude this week.