A Washington man who pleaded no contest to murdering his estranged wife in her Santa Clarita-area home while her children slept was sentenced this week to 35 1/2 years to life in state prison, with a judge and the victim’s family saying they believe he should remain behind bars for the rest of his life.
Superior Court Judge Cynthia L. Ulfig noted that James Matthew Dorsey “will have the possibility of being paroled in the future” as a result of the policies of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, who has barred prosecutors in his office from filing special circumstance allegations in new cases that could result in sentences of death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“Obviously the feeling of the family members here, as well as this court, is that he should remain in prison for the rest of his life,” the judge said.
Michelle Dorsey, a 38-year-old mother of three boys, died April 15 of stab wounds after being taken to a hospital. She had also suffered blunt force trauma injuries, according to online records from the coroner’s office.
Roughly a month after his arrest, Dorsey, 42, pleaded no contest May 17 to one count each of murder, attempted kidnapping, first-degree burglary, fleeing police and resisting arrest.
The judge said she understands that the victim’s family will have a fear that Dorsey may one day “be allowed to roam freely among them,” and said she hopes the parole board will “take a close look at the danger this defendant poses to the community at large” and carefully review the facts of the case, including statements made in court by the victim’s family members.
Dorsey fled the area in his wife’s 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, which was spotted the night of the killing at 330th Street West and Alamo Pump Drive near Gorman. He was believed to be armed with a large knife and barricaded himself in the car.
The victim had sought a temporary restraining order against her husband when they separated in 2019 and investigators believe she was planning to refile that paperwork.