Home News Daniel Dougherty convicted a 3rd time in fatal 1985 Oxford Circle fire

Daniel Dougherty convicted a 3rd time in fatal 1985 Oxford Circle fire

Daniel Dougherty, twice convicted of setting a 1985 fire that killed his two young sons in their Oxford Circle home, was convicted a third time on Monday.

Daniel Dougherty Jr., 4, and John Dougherty, 3, died in a fire at about 4 a.m. on Aug. 24, 1985 as they slept in a twin bed in their second-floor bedroom in a rowhome at 929½ Carver St.

Their dad was not arrested until 14 years after the fire, and he went on trial in October 2000. He has always claimed he was asleep on the couch when he noticed the curtains on fire. He ran out of the house, not upstairs to save his kids.

The prosecution has always pointed to evidence that the fire started in three places as proof it was arson.

Dougherty test­i­fied at his first trial that he was in­no­cent, but a jury con­victed him of first-de­gree murder and arson and sen­tenced him to death by leth­al in­jec­tion.

In 2012, during the appeals process, the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice agreed to over­turn the death sen­tence, changing the sentence to life in prison.

In winning the initial retrial, Dougherty’s de­fense team ques­tioned the ef­fect­ive­ness of his tri­al law­yer for fail­ing to hire a fire in­vest­ig­a­tion ex­pert. In the second trial, in 2016, Dougherty was convicted of second-degree murder and arson.

A three-judge Superior Court panel in 2017 granted Dougherty another retrial, ruling that the prosecution should not have been allowed to show the jury a picture of the burned bodies; should not have been allowed to question an ex-girlfriend about his alleged violent acts when confronted about his drinking; and should not have been permitted at retrial to present a fire marshal’s testimony from the first trial, since he was unable to appear at the retrial.

On Monday, the second day of deliberations, the jury of eight women and four men convicted Dougherty, 59, of second-degree murder and arson, and Judge J. Scott O’Keefe sentenced him to life in prison.

At the start of the trial, on March 27, Assistant District Attorney Ashley Martin and Anthony Voci, chief of the district attorney’s office homicide unit, offered Dougherty a deal. He could make an open plea to arson and two counts of third-degree murder, which might have made him eligible for parole.

“No. Never,” he answered when O’Keefe asked him if he would accept the deal. ••

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