Editor's note: This story updates one issued June 9.
WACO, Texas (ABP) — Former basketball player Carlton Dotson was sentenced to 35 years in prison June 15 for killing his former Baylor University basketball teammate Patrick Dennehy — despite his attorney's insistence that Dotson was mentally ill at the time of the murder.
Dotson, 22, who spent two months in a mental hospital on a judge's order, previously told investigators that he was Jesus, “the son of God.”
Dotson surprised prosecutors and even his family June 8 by submitting an open plea — which carries no deal for leniency — just two days before jury selection was scheduled to begin. He will not be eligible for parole until after serving 17 years.
Patrick Dennehy disappeared from the Waco, Texas, campus in June 2003. Six weeks later, his remains were found in a field a few miles from Baylor. On September 3, 2003, Dotson was indicted for murder. The motive behind the killing is still unknown.
Dennehy's death led to an investigation of the men's basketball team, and later NCAA probation, after investigators found that Head Coach Dave Bliss had given Dennehy and another team member tuition money and that drug use by some basketball players had not been reported. Bliss and Athletic Director Tom Stanton ultimately resigned.
In a statement released after Dotson's plea, Baylor's new athletics director, Ian McCaw, said: “We view it as a very positive development that an acceptable plea agreement has been reached in this case and it does not proceed to trial. We now await the final decision from the NCAA infractions committee before bringing the entire episode to closure.”
Baylor University Interim President William Underwood said in a statement that the guilty plea is helping to end a “painful period” for Baylor. He extended prayer support both to the victim's family members, “who have suffered the most from this tragedy,” and to Dotson's family members, “who have endured a different, but no less painful, ordeal.”
Baylor spokesperson Lori Scott Fogleman told ABP new basketball coach Scott Drew has helped the men's program get back on its feet. “Scott is doing a tremendous job doing things the right way and restoring integrity to our men's program,” she said.
Fogleman also said the national championship recently won by the women's basketball team gave the university a chance to prove the “excellence and integrity” of Baylor and its basketball program. “[Women's basketball coach] Kim Mulkey-Robertson's Lady Bears were a shining light for Baylor when we needed it most,” she said.