I guess it was just a natural transition – that A&E would start airing the devastation that all those “First 48” murders cause. In my “I should have been a TV Critic” mentality – I emailed them right after the premiere of the second season that I hope they would be doing just that. It actually took them several more years before my suggestion would come to fruition.
After The First 48 follows some of the most powerful cases of The First 48 through the criminal justice system. Through interviews with detectives, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the families of victims, viewers witness the dramatic and emotional inside story: from the investigation, to the murder trial, to the verdict and beyond.
The killers might be the “stars” on The First 48, but on After the First 48, the families have their opportunity to deliver justice and the audience gets a lesson in how the justice system works in various parts of the country. What’s really satisfying is witnessing the “closure” the families get after being victimized by killers for some of the most ridiculous reasons in the world.
What’s really dissatisfying is having to witness the families go through the trial after the killer has done a complete 180 from the ending of The First 48 to the beginning of After the First 48.
Take the case of a “blackout” murder of a family on Lester Street in Memphis, TN. Four adults and five children were viciously shot, stabbed and bludgeoned. Only three survived, all children. It was one of these children, who had a butcher knife lodged in his skull, that summoned the courage and told the police it was “junior” (Jessie Dotson) who attacked him and killed his family.
After the First 48 – Lester Street was a 2-hour episode steeped in controversy. Jessie Dotson, the brother of the murder victim and the uncle of the child who eventually led police to him, confessed to Lt. Toney Armstrong in the original First 48 Lester Street episode.
Jessie Dotson cried in his mother’s arms and asked her to forgive him for killing her son (his brother) and some of her grandchildren. This episode boggled your mind. It was impossible for you to step into the shoes of any of those people because this was an absolutely horrible, vicious crime for stupid, senseless reasons.
Killing adults, killing your brother, but killing kids because they witness you killing your brother – chasing them around the house and sticking them with butcher knives or beating them with pieces of wood – I’m sorry but in my book you are going to prison and you are not getting out – ever.
And that’s what happened. Jessie Dotson was sentenced to six life sentences plus an additional 120 years in prison.
He received death sentences for the six people he murdered: his brother, Cecil, 30, and the “witnesses:” Marissa Williams, 27, Shindri Roberson, 22, Hollis Seals, 33; plus Cecil’s children, Cemario, 4, and Cecil II, 2.
He received 120 years for beating and stabbing three children who survived.
Memphis city leaders claimed the show, which received unprecedented access into the inner workings of the Memphis Police Department, shed a positive light on the homicide team but a negative light on the city, and the contract was cut short.
Lady Justice and her scales are tested once again.