PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — After a week of hearing testimony and viewing evidence, jurors have begun deliberations after closing arguments in the murder trial of Daniel Dougherty.
He was previously twice convicted of setting the fire that killed his two young boys in their Oxford Circle rowhouse.
Defense lawyer David Fryman told jurors there was “no basis to conclude that there were three distinct fires intentionally set.” Pointing to two fire science experts he called who testified, he says the same burn patterns in what is called “full room involvement” would be present in an accidental fire.
Fryman told jurors the burn patterns in the small rowhome were “inconclusive,” the fire investigation in 1985 was “incomplete” and investigators “failed to eliminate all potential causes, like accidental.” Plus, he points out, Dougherty wasn’t charged until 14 years after he lost his two young sons in that fire. That, he says, was reasonable doubt.
When the first responding police officer at the scene in 1985 asked Dougherty his name, he replied, “My name is Mudd, and I should die for what I did.” Fryman says “he wasn’t admitting guilt, he was feeling guilty and responsible, and he wanted God to take him rather than the boys.”
The chief of the district attorney’s homicide unit, Anthony Voci, says it “may have been the most honest thing Dougherty ever said about the case.”
Voci was critical in sizing up the defense experts, suggesting one was a “hacker who over-inflated his experience and resume,” and the other, Voci says, “sold out on another case for money.” Voci says his money was on “trained, dedicated professionals in the Philadelphia Fire Department who ruled it was arson.”
Voci said he doesn’t know what Dougherty was thinking after a night of heavy drinking along with Dougherty’s girlfriend kicking him out and his estranged wife rejecting his sexual advances.
But, Voci says even if Dougherty “didn’t mean to harm his kids…once he set the fire,” Voci says “it became a monster and got away from him.” Even if he “instantaneously regretted it,” he says Dougherty “was on the hook for all of the consequences.”
After closing arguments, as jurors filed out left on the evidence screen by the door was a large color photograph of Dougherty’s children, 4-year-old Danny and 3-year-old Johnny, both smiling and hugging each other.