Jury selection in retrial of elderly street vendor beating case - KMSP-TV

Jury selection in retrial of elderly street vendor beating case

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It was a brutal attack caught on tape that stunned our region. The video helped convict James Dorsey in the beating of an elderly vendor in Foggy Bottom back in 2005.

Despite confessing to the attack, an appeals court overturned Dorsey's conviction on the grounds his constitutional rights were violated. On Tuesday, jury selection in his retrial started.

If you were living in the Washington area in May of 2005, it is very likely you remember what happened to a vendor affectionately known as "Grandma.”

Dorsey has been locked up for the last nine years after admitting to police he was the man in the video kicking, punching and robbing 83-year-old Vassiliki Fotopoulous.

He told detectives what he did in a 2005 videotaped interview.

"So I just asked her for money right? So she grabbed my hand like this, so she didn't want to let go. I mean, I didn't know that lady was that old or whatever. Anyway I didn't want to hit her anyway, so I just hit her you know with my fists right? And I just took the money and went on.”

But the D.C. Court of Appeals in a 5 to 2 ruling said the police ignored Dorsey's requests to speak with a lawyer and badgered him “with a vengeance.”

It was Dorsey's second appeal. His first was denied.

Fotopoulous was a fixture on 23rd Street and after recovering from the beating, the 83-year-old went back to work where people were happy to see her.

As recently as a few months ago, vendors told us Fotopoulous was confined to a wheelchair and was living with her daughter. She was no longer selling those umbrellas outside the station.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she died last month.

Dorsey has already served more than half of his sentence. He was given 14 years after his 2006 conviction.

Jury selection began Tuesday at D.C. Superior Court. Prosecutors are hoping to get to opening statements on Wednesday or Thursday.

It is unclear if prosecutors will be able to use the video against Dorsey in his retrial.

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