A Jackson County jury sentenced 49-year-old Drew Lamond Dotson to five years in the Arkansas Department of corrections for his role in the shooting of Eugene Foster.
According to a police affidavit, on January 16 at around 2:30 a.m. police responded to 2604 McDougal St., apartment four, after being alerted that someone had been shot. When police arrived they noticed that the front storm door glass had been broken and a spent shell casing on the front porch. Police say they then made contact with the victim identified as 43-year-old Eugene Foster of Newport. Foster told police that two men were beating on his door and when he asked what they wanted the affidavit states that one of the men identified himself as Drew and told Foster they were looking for someone. According to the affidavit, when Foster opened the door he was asked if he was "Jonathan" when he said no the person speaking ordered the other man to shoot. The other man, later identified by a witness as 46-year-old Tupelo resident Keith Baumgarner, obliged and shot Foster in the chin, according to the affidavit. The witness, according to police, did not know the last name of Drew but did know where he lived. Police say the witness led an officer to the residence which the officer recognized as being the home of Drew Lamond Dotson Sr. Police say they caught up with Baumgarner around 11:30 a.m. and he told police Dotson had picked him earlier that morning with a shotgun in the back seat and was told by Dotson they were going to rob someone. According to the affidavit, Baumgarner told police they stopped a residence and Dotson went inside and brought back a hand gun and sat it in his lap. Baumgarner says, according to the affidavit, they drove to Foster's home and Doston began beating on the front door. When foster opened the door he raised the gun and shot Foster then fled back to the car and the pair drove off. Baumgarner later negotiated a plea deal of second degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Dotson however plead not guilty and went to trial. According to State Prosecutor Jack McQuary, during the trial Dotson pleaded with the jury that he was trying to turn his life around and that he had been sucked into the world of crime and drugs by other people. "I didn't believe he was being sincere in his statements to the jurors that he just needed to turn his life around and that they were going to give him an opportunity to do so," said McQuary. "One of the major things was that he didn't have a criminal history at the time but to be perfectly honest with as much as we knew about how much his involvement was in the drug world around Newport, as well as elsewhere, the only reason he didn't have a criminal history is that he hadn't been caught before." McQuary says under the truth in sentencing law, passed several years ago in Arkansas, that the prosecution was able to tell the jury about good time served and that he would be able to get out in one-quarter of the time he was sentenced to. "That's why in my closing arguments, because they had found him guilty of attempted murder in the second degree and the maximum on that is 20 years, I tried to tell them, 'I know this sounds harsh but what the court just read to you called the truth and sentencing means if you sentence him to the maximum of 20 years and he goes down there and does everything he is supposed to do he can be out in five,'" explained McQuary. "Let him prove to us that he is wanting to turn his live around." McQuary says that Dotson's penalty could have been enhanced by 15 years because he used a firearm in the commission of a crime but the jury elected not to give him anything on that. "You can't ever fault a jury on anything at all, but you know we were a little disappointed in the sentence," said McQuary. "That's what a jury is supposed to do and from everything I can tell they deliberated it like a jury is opposed to and they came with a verdict and by god that's what it is." McQuary says that he wonders what maybe he could have done differently to affect the outcome. "It makes me wonder what I could have done differently as a prosecutor to show just how serious the nature, when you cause someone to go and shoot someone in their face. That's pretty (explicit) serious," he said. According to McQuary, with the five year sentence Dotson could possibly be released in just a years time. "That's the disappointing part," he said. "Don't get me wrong, I hope he goes down there gets rehabilitated and come out fully understanding the lifestyle he was living isn't the lifestyle society wants out here."