Judge denies request for new trial for men convicted in Zaevion Dobson's death


Christopher Bassett Jr., (L) Kipling Colbert Jr., and Richard Willaims (R) were convicted in the murder of Zaevion Dobson. / Source: (Knox County Sheriff's Office)

Three men convicted in the death of Zaevion Dobson were denied a request for a new trial Friday.

Court documents did not give a reason for the request.

In December of 2017, Christopher Bassett, Kipling Colbert, Jr. and Richard Williams III were all found guilty in connection to the murder of the 15-year-old football standout.

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Steve Sword compared the alleged actions of the trio to a hunting expedition and claimed the young men were going to war the night of Dobson's murder.

Judge Sword emotionally addressed Zaevion's family and friends.

"There's no sentence I could give that would bring Zaevion back," Sword said in response to mother Zenobia Dobson's request for the maximum sentence.

Christopher Bassett was found guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon and guilty of first degree murder. Bassett was also found guilty of attempted first degree murder on Zack Dobson. Bassett was found guilty of 19 separate counts. Judge Steve Sword sentenced Bassett to life plus 35 years.

Kipling Colbert, Jr. was found guilty of facilitation of first degree murder, and guilty of facilitation of attempted murder on all charges. Colbert was found guilty of 17 separate counts. He received a sentence of 109 years.

Richard Williams was found guilty of facilitation of first degree murder, and guilty of facilitation of attempted murder. He was found guilty of 17 separate counts. Williams faces a sentence of 143 years.

Zenobia read a powerful account from her son Zack about the night Zaevion was murdered.

"I could hear them shooting over and over and over," Zack recalled. "Me and my friends, we're the ones who got shot at; my brother is the one who died."

When she finished reading Zack's statement, Zenobia emotionally described the toll her son's death has had on her life.

"Because of this senseless violence, I will never see my child graduate high school or go to the prom," Zenobia explained.

Zenobia said she is rebuilding her family day by day due to the deadly shooting.

"My son deserved to live," she said.

Zenobia also spoke out about Bassett, Colbert, and Williams. "They chose to shoot. They chose to shoot over 30 times," she commented.

Zaevion's Legacy

Zaevion Dobson was killed in December of 2015 while shielding friends from gunfire. Investigators reported the shooting was gang-related and the victims were picked at random.

"The ultimate sacrifice," said Zenobia Dobson. "It means the world to me to know that my son stood up for something that is right for the children in the community."

The story of Dobson's heroic, final act touched thousands of people across the country, including praise from former President Barack Obama.

The Fulton High School football player was honored posthumously with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2016 ESPY awards. Networks from ESPN to CBS have told his story. Millions watched during the 2016 Super Bowl as CBS Sports revisited the night of Zaevion's death.

Zaevion's school remembered his spirit with an eight foot version of no. 24, his football number, on the football field. The Fulton Falcons retired his jersey on the school's senior night in October 2017.

The Lonsdale community unveiled The Zaevion Dobson Memorial Playground and Park on the corner of Goins and Badgett drives in April 2017. Inspired by Dobson's actions, the City of Knoxville and Overcoming Believers Church are working together to build a new center to combat youth violence, called "The Change Center." The center will be a safe place for kids of all ages to come play and receive training and mentoring.

"His life, how he lived and how he died, will be shared with every generation that comes through," Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch said.

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