Man found guilty in

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

stabbing death



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CAMDEN &045; A Wilcox County jury deliberated for more than two hours Tuesday before finding Jason Dickerson guilty of the stabbing death of a 60 year-old grandmother who was apparently selling drugs.

Dickerson, 25, was charged with the Oct. 11, 2005 murder of Arbella Portis, who authorities said had been selling crack cocaine from her 781 Hwy. 41 S. residence. Portis confronted Dickerson with a knife for trying to buy crack with counterfeit $5 bills.

She had been tricked by an associate of Dickerson who had bought crack earlier with a counterfeit $100 bill that Dickerson had been printing on his home computer.

Dickerson, who testified in his own defense, could be sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for the murder of &8220;Ms. Toot,&8221; as Portis was known in the community. His attorney, Joseph Hagood, has asked the court for a pre-sentencing investigation prior to sentencing.

The Alabama Department of Forensic Science investigators conducted an autopsy and revealed Portis died of &8220;multiple stab wounds&8221;

Jimmy L. Thomas and Shannon Lynch, both assistant district attorney’s in the Fourth Judicial Circuit, said Dickerson had given a statement to investigators and testified during the trial that Portis approached him with the knife. According to his statement Dickerson said he attempted to take the knife from Portis and cut his right hand. A struggle ensued and Dickerson said he &8220;didn’t remember what happened after that.&8221; He told police he woke up lying on the kitchen floor covered in blood.

The State Medical Examiner’s report revealed Portis had been stabbed more than 100 times.

Jury selection for the trial began Monday morning and testimony wrapped up Tuesday after lunch. Circuit Judge Tommy Jones charged the jury with its responsibilities and deliberations began about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. Jurors returned just after 5:30 p.m. with the guilty verdict.

Her daughter, Dorothy Portis, discovered Portis’ lifeless body. She went to her mother’s home at about 9:40 a.m. She told authorities she got a key hidden outside and entered the home after her mother didn’t answer. When she discovered her mother lying on the floor in a pool of blood she dialed 911.

Dickerson was arrested that night about 11 p.m. without incident.

Dorothy Portis gave a sworn statement to the Assistant Camden Police Chief Victor Dale stating Dickerson had come to her earlier the night before asking her to drive him to her mother’s house. After she declined Dickerson went on. According to court records, Dickerson had been smoking crack cocaine, some of which was bought by an associate with bogus money from Portis.

When police and ABI investigators searched Portis’ residence crack cocaine and evidence of marijuana was found.