Death Row Stories: Forensics by Fire will chronicle the case of Daniel Dougherty, convicted three times of setting a 1985 fire that killed his two young sons in their Oxford Circle home, tonight at 9 on HLN.
Dougherty was convicted for the third time in April 2019. He faced charges for a fire that killed Daniel Dougherty Jr., 4, and John Dougherty, 3.
The fire happened at about 4 a.m. on Aug. 24, 1985 in a rowhome at 929½ Carver St.
Dougherty, 60, 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.
After Dougherty was convicted last year of second-degree murder and arson, a judge sentenced him to life in prison. The district attorney’s office had offered him a chance to make an open plea to arson and two counts of third-degree murder, which might have made him eligible for parole. Dougherty rejected that deal. ••