Third trial continues for Daniel Dougherty, the man accused of killing 2 sons in 1985 fire

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Theatrics filled the courtroom Thursday after a full day of testimony in the third trial against the Philadelphia man accused of killing his two toddler sons in 1985. The convictions in two pervious trials were overturned by a higher court. 

Related: Third trial begins for man twice-convicted of 1985 fire that killed 2 sons

Acting as the defendant and prosecutor, two assistant district attorneys read through testimony given by Daniel Dougherty from the first trial, like a script from a movie. The two went back and forth about where the defendant was before, during and after the August fire that killed his two sons, 3-year-old John and 4-year-old Daniel.

Dougherty has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and arson.

According to testimony from another trial, Dougherty was asked, “Do you hold yourself accountable for those boys’ deaths?” 

“Yes,” he replied. 

“Do you still?” he was asked again.

“Yes.”

Prosecutors allege Dougherty intentionally sparked the flames out of anger toward his live-in girlfriend, who was going to leave him, and the mother of the boys, who refused his sexual advances.

The then-girlfriend took the stand, trying to recall that night nearly 34 years ago. She told the jury little details about the argument at a bar they had about his drinking.

A crime scene officer who recently took measurements inside the Oxford Circle home also testified, with other officers pulling out wooden frame props to show the jury the size and space of openings in the home, including a front window.

The also went through a video tape tour of the home, as it looks now.

A current homicide detective read through notes and statements made by the assigned detective at the time of the fire.

The chief medical examiner also took the stand, explaining the autopsy conducted on the toddler boys and confirming the children had charred, scorned skin, but they ultimately died by smoke inhalation.

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