Daniel Dougherty found guilty of 2nd-degree murder, arson in third trial

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — After about seven hours of deliberations, the jury found 59-year-old Daniel Dougherty guilty of all charges, including two counts of second-degree murder and arson. 

He was found guilty of setting a fire in his Oxford Circle home that killed his two young sons in 1985. Four-year-old Danny and 3-year-old Johnny died in the bed they shared. Dougherty wasn’t arrested until 14 years later.

All three juries in this saga — in 2000, 2016 and the past two weeks — had to weigh evidence on exactly how and where the fire started. 

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When the jury was excused Monday afternoon, the defendant refused to appear at the defense table. While he was in the anteroom with sheriff’s deputies, Judge Scott O’Keefe went from the bar of the court over to the door, basically yelling through the door.

He motioned to a sheriff’s deputy to open the door and make sure Dougherty could hear him.

“These acts that night were despicable,” said O’Keefe. “Just to get back at your girlfriend and your estranged wife, you burned your own two children to death.” 

The judge imposed consecutive life prison terms for the deaths of Danny and Johnny. 

A fire investigator confirmed in the original arson finding that it was set in three places: the sofa, loveseat, and under the dining room table. 

Fire science investigators hired by the defense countered that the cause should have been undetermined. Dougherty’s team has cited full-room involvement. Everything burns in various intensities, they argued, even in accidental fires when one source starts it. 

Stay with KYW Newsradio for updates to this breaking story.

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