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Christopher DORCH





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Drugs
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 23, 1989
Date of arrest: September 14, 1992
Date of birth: April 26, 1971
Victim profile: David Ivory
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Genesee County, Michigan, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on June 9, 1993

How Not to Make Mashed Potatoes

It took police almost three years to find the man who killed David Ivory and tried to kill Gregory Coffer but this arrest demonstrates how police can’t choose the victims in the cases they get, and that every murder deserves investigation, regardless of the victim’s character.

On a cold Thanksgiving evening in Flint, Michigan in 1989, Ivory and Coffer were selling crack out of an apartment rented by a “friend,” Lemoyne Burke. At some point (probably after the Detroit Lions lost another annual Thanksgiving Day game. Ed.), Burke brought in a customer who was unknown to Ivory and Coffer.

The customer, later identified as Christopher Dorch, went to use the bathroom and came out holding a pistol with a potato on the end of the barrel to act as a silencer. Dorch fired one round at Ivory, killing him and then ordered Coffer to lie on the ground while Burke robbed the place of the drugs and cash.

Dorch then cut Coffer’s neck with a small pocket knife and stabbed him in the side of the head, finaly fleeing the scene with Burke. Waiting a few minutes for his attackers to leave, Coffer got up and summoned help.

The case was dormant until April 1990 when police presented Coffer with a photo line-up of suspects. He identified Dorch as the shooter but told authorities that Dorch’s hair was different on the night of the murder.

Dorch’s lawyer claimed the photo line-up was a set-up because Dorch’s photo was the only one without facial hair (and Coffer had earlier described the shooter as having none) and because only three of the six black men portrayed in the photos were dark-skinned, which Coffer had related to police).

The identification wasn’t enough to prompt an arrest, and the case went to the back of the line until September 14, 1992 when police arrested Dorch for Ivory’s murder.

At trial, the state presented a collection of circumstantial evidence linking Dorch to the crime. Two witnesses, who knew Dorch, said they saw him around Burke’s apartment that Thanksgiving night, and Dorch’s cell-mate in the county lock-up testifed that Dorch told him about robbing a crack house using a potato as a silencer.

In his defense, Dorch told the court that he was celebrating Thanksgiving with his family in Detroit and that he had left Flint (and the crack business) in October 1989.

“Apparently believing the testimony of the State’s witnesses and not the testimony of Dorch, a jury convicted Dorch on all counts,” a Sixth Circuit panel wrote in 2004 denying a writ of habeas corpus. “The court sentenced Dorch to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder conviction, along with consecutive sentences of ten-to-twenty years for the assault conviction and two years for the firearm conviction.”



Christopher Dorch



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