MURRIETA – An ex-con who killed a Hemet drug counselor he was dating and stuffed her body in a suitcase that he dumped in a motel room is expected to be sentenced tomorrow to 57 years to life in prison.
In June, an eight-woman, four-man jury in Murrieta convicted Joseph David Dorsey of first-degree murder for the August 2012 strangulation of 47- year-old Christine Stewart.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Mandio will hear a defense motion to set aside Dorsey’s prior felony strikes, which are doubling the sentence that the 29-year-old defendant would otherwise receive.
Dorsey claimed that he killed Stewart ”in the heat of passion” while arguing with her after learning she was seeing another man, Daniel ”Blue” Loyle, whom she had agreed to marry.
During a videotaped interview recorded by sheriff’s Detective James Merrill, Dorsey admitted attacking his girlfriend of two years after the two finished having sex at his Lake Elsinore apartment.
”I mean we were in bed and we were laying there and we started arguing,” the defendant told Merrill. ”It was like that (snapping his fingers), and I had her pinned to the bed by her throat. It was like it wasn’t even me.”
According to Dorsey, when his hands began to hurt, he strangled Stewart with a phone cord. When he saw she was still breathing, he went into the bathroom, filled the bathtub and plunged her head underwater ”until she stopped moving.”
He stuffed the victim’s body into a roller-wheel suitcase, then drove to a Best Western in Poway with the remains. The 5-foot-2, 100-pound Canyon Lake woman’s body was found on Aug. 8 by motel cleaning staff.
Dorsey fled to Mexico and was arrested on Oct. 23 in Playas de Rosarito.
The defendant was convicted in 2006 of assault and battery on a peace officer, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison.
He was also convicted in June 2012 of attempted burglary. According to court records, he originally was charged with burglary and grand theft in that case, but under a plea agreement, the two felony charges were dropped and replaced with the lesser count, resulting in a one-year prison sentence.
With credit for time served in jail and additional state credit to minimize prison overcrowding, Dorsey was allowed to go free.