PRESCOTT – Jo Ann Dorsey, who pleaded guilty in April to the second-degree murder of her husband, Raymond, wept quietly Friday as her family of 30 years asked Judge William Kiger to impose the longest possible sentence.
"I am worried about my family at the time of Jo's release," Robert Dorsey, Raymond's oldest son, said during Mrs. Dorsey's pre-sentence hearing, "I don't care if it's 100 years from now."
Kiger will sentence Dorsey, who shot her husband four times with a single-action revolver during an argument over the cost of a mud room he was adding onto their Dewey home, Monday. He can impose a prison term of from 10 to 22 years, and does not have the option of probation. Dorsey's attorney, Tom Kelly, requested Friday's pre-sentence hearing but chose not to present any evidence or testimony aimed at ameliorating his client's sentence.
"I personally couldn't see subjecting the family, or Jo Dorsey, to an evidentiary hearing," he said, noting that the primary factor in his client's favor is an ancient one.
"I think the judge has a grasp on the aggravating and mitigating factors in the case," he said. "This is classic heat of passion and that's been a mitigating factor since the beginning of man."
Prosecutor Dave Mackey is seeking a term toward the high end of the 22-year maximum. He bases his arguments on the suffering Mr. Dorsey endured in the moments between his wife's first shot – which struck him in the hip – and her last, which struck his heart.
Mackey also contends that the killing caused grave and irreparable harm to Mr. Dorsey's children, all of whom are from a previous marriage.
Those children, all grown and with children of their own, told Judge Kiger just how devastating their loss has been.
"It's just been an unending nightmare," Richard Dorsey said. "It just doesn't seem to stop."
Mr. Dorsey's daughter, Jean Dennis, said that the incident changed the very nature of her existence.
"What really bothers me is it's taken a piece of our innocence," she said. "We're not people any more, we're victims, victims of violence."
And though Mrs. Dorsey has never before been charged with a violent offense, Dennis also said she feared her release.
"I do not want her to get out of jail," she said. "I want her to stay in as long as possible because my children are fearful of her."
Shannon Dorsey, Raymond's youngest son, read a poem he wrote the day of his father's funeral and contemplated the irony of the family's reaction to his death.
"Yes, this has brought the family together," he said, "but what a bad way to make a family closer."
Robert Dorsey, who, like his father, works as a cable splicer, said he has missed a great deal of work since the murder, largely because the reminders of his father are too constant, too familiar.
"Every day I do the same work my dad did for 40 years," he said. "I use the same tools my dad used for 40 years. I have no relief from the feeling that my dad is missing."
The terms of Dorsey's plea agreement call for her to serve her entire prison sentence, without the possibility of parole.