Jury acquits Homer man on kidnapping, assault charges
After two-and-a-half days of deliberation last week, a Homer jury last Friday morning found a Homer man not guilty on three felony counts of kidnapping, third-degree assault and third-degree weapons misconduct. The jury did find William O. Daugherty, 47, guilty on two counts of fourth-degree assault, domestic violence.
Because of Daugherty's roots in the community and his criminal past, almost 300 potential jurors were called.
The charges came about after an incident where Daugherty drove around Homer with a woman, then 18, in early July 2012.
In charging documents, Homer Police Sgt. David Shealy said Daugherty picked up the woman at her uncle's place of work, a grocery store, and drove around with her.
Shealy wrote that later that night the woman called her uncle numerous times on a cell phone, claiming Daugherty wouldn't let her out of his truck. The woman also claimed Daugherty threatened her with a handgun. The uncle called police and went to look for her. In his criminal complaint, Shealy said the woman claimed she escaped from Daugherty when he heard her uncle's car on the road and Daugherty went back to his truck and drove away.
Shealy wrote that he found the woman standing by the side of East Skyline Drive, visibly upset and emotional.
"I thought he was going to kill me," the woman said in testimony in court.
On the kidnapping count, Daugherty was charged with exposing the woman to a substantial risk of serious physical injury. The third-degree assault charge was for recklessly placing a person in fear of injury with agun, while the weapons misconduct charge was for possession of a concealable weapon by a convicted felon.
The jury found him guilty on a lesser charge of fourth-degree assault and a second fourth-degree assault charge of causing a person physical injury.
Ruth Sensenig, a Seldovia teacher who served as a juror in the case, said the only evidence presented that Daugherty had a gun came from the victim's testimony. The victim was shown in trial to be a liar, Sensenig said, something even assistant District Attorney Angela Garay admitted in her closing arguments.
"The jury was merely upholding our justice system when they delivered the verdict of not guilty," Sensenig said of the felony counts. "They weren't saying he was innocent, necessarily; they were saying there wasn't enough evidence to convict."
"I'm very relieved," said Daugherty's lawyer, Bill Taylor, of the dismissal of felony charges. "I think the jury put a lot of time looking into the evidence. I think they delivered a fair verdict."
After the verdict and while Daugherty awaits sentencing on the lesser charges, Superior Court Judge Charles Huguelet set bail at $5,000 with a $500 cash performance bond. Daugherty thanked his attorney.
"I'm just glad I grew up in Homer," Daugherty said.
His older sister, Shari Daugherty, praised the jury for its consideration.
"I'm thrilled that the process worked and these people (the jurors) worked so hard and came to the verdict they did," she said.
Taylor said Daugherty has already served eight months at Wildwood Pretrial Facility awaiting trial. Daugherty has a sentencing hearing on March 26, and Taylor said he hoped Judge Huguelet would sentence him to time served and probation.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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