A Livingston man accused of murdering a 16-year-old Baytown teenager has pleaded guilty to killing her in 2016.
Jesse Christian Dobbs, 23, entered a guilty plea in the murder of 16-year-old Kirsten Fritch, a Robert E. Lee High School student who was found by a team from Texas Equusearch near a Texas City bar where Dobbs had been arrested the day before for resisting arrest.
Dobbs is now expected to appear in the 56th District Court for a punishment jury trial set Sept. 24.
Dobbs is also the main suspect in the murders of Fritch’s mother, 37-year-old Cynthia Morris, and sister, 13-year-old Breanna Pavilicek, inside their Baytown home.
The guilty plea was submitted in Judge Lonnie Cox of the 56th District Court in Galveston.
Dobbs was scheduled to go on trial for Fritch’s murder next week. He faces up to life in prison. However, a jury could find there was sudden passion in Fritch’s death, and he could end up with a prison term capped at 20 years.
The death penalty, according to Lynette Briggs, one of Dobbs’ attorneys, was “never on the table.”
However, if Dobbs ends up being charged in Harris County for the deaths of Morris and Pavilicek, it is possible he could face a death sentence for those slayings.
Galveston County prosecutor Bill Reed said his office was pleased with the guilty plea.
“We are happy he has accepted responsibility,” Reed said.
The ordeal began on Nov. 8, 2016, when police responded to a Louise Street home. Police discovered Morris and her younger daughter dead of an apparent gunshot wound in the master bedroom.
Fritch was missing along with Dobbs, so an Amber Alert was issued for her some hours later. Police documents state a man in Texas City saw the two at his apartment complex and Dobbs asked him for a cigarette.
Dobbs placed a call to his ex-girlfriend and requested to be taken to Louisiana to see his children one final time. However, the ex-girlfriend called police instead, and Dobbs was picked up at the Shenanigan’s Bar in Texas City. He was held on a resisting arrest charge. Dobbs confessed but did not say where Fritch’s body could be found.
Baytown detectives who saw Dobbs in the Texas City jail said as they were about to walk out of the room, he said: “Kirsten is dead, I killed her.”
Dobbs also said it was not the “real Kirsten, but the fake Kirsten.”
Fritch’s body was discovered 200 feet from the bar after a two-day search. She had sustained more than 50 stab wounds.
Dobbs was charged with Fritch’s murder.
Lt. Steve Dorris, Baytown police spokesman said the murders of Morris and Pavilicek are still an open case.
“The thing about homicide investigations and/or murder charges is that they do not have a shelf life, or a statute of limitations, like other offenses. With cases such as this one, time in a sense is on our side, from the standpoint that there is no statute of limitations on murder,” Dorris said.
Dorris added detectives have to be disciplined in such cases.
“The reality is, we get one chance to get it right, therefore, we aren’t working just simply to be able to charge someone, we want to make sure we have enough to get a conviction because once we file charges the proverbial clock starts ticking for us,” Dorris said.
“While these murders are intimately intertwined and connected, they are actually two separate investigations in two separate jurisdictions,” Dorris said. “The fact that Dobbs has pled guilty to the murder of Kirsten in Galveston County does not mean that the investigation into the murders of Cynthia and Breanna is closed. We will continue to work that case in the hopes that we will eventually have enough evidence to make an arrest and ultimately obtain a conviction.”
In July 2017, Dobbs’ lawyer, Jyll Rekoff, said in a motion he “does not have the sufficient present ability to consult with me with a reasonable degree of rational understanding.”
Rekoff also wrote Dobbs does not have an appreciation of the court proceedings. “During these occasions, he seems to suffer from delusional beliefs concerning the facts of the case charged against him,” Rekoff stated.
Dobbs wrote an angry hand-written letter to the court saying Fritch was, in fact, not dead.
“There is no hard evidence supporting the claims laid against me,” he stated. “I’m falsely accused of murdering someone, which I know for a fact isn’t even dead.”