By Naomi Klouda
A jury found a Homer man guilty on two counts of assault after a week-long trial accusing him of kidnapping an 18-year-old woman last July.
William O. Daugherty, 47, was convicted on two counts of fourth-degree assault when the jury read the verdict on Friday. The jury did not find him guilty on the felony counts of kidnapping, assault or third-degree misconduct involving weapons.
The misdemeanor assault convictions stem from an event on July 6, 2012.
A 13-person jury heard the events leading up to the incident. Prosecuting Attorney Angela Garay put the victim on the stand, where she answered questions for at least two hours. The victim became friends with Daugherty at the age of 16. She described for the jury that she kept the friendship a secret from friends and relatives because she was “embarrassed and ashamed” of being with an older man.
At first, Daugherty’s friendship consisted of clandestine trips to Anchorage or Kenai. He bought her gifts of clothing, gave her cash, paid her phone bills and gave her drugs. Soon, he became possessive and controlling, she said.
In March 2012, with her guardian uncle’s help, she took out a protective court order against Daugherty. It expired after six weeks, and some communication and interaction continued.
The victim graduated from high school in May 2012, and was set for college. “He wasn’t happy about me going away to college and said he wanted to follow me there,” she said.
The prosecution revealed samples of the text messages from Daugherty to the victim July 4-6 that went on for four pages. On July 4, the woman was spending the day with her boyfriend and relatives through out the day, a constant stream of text messages and phone calls came from Daugherty.
“(The calls and texts) were angry and calling me names, threatening to confront my boyfriend,” she said. She was asked to read the texts aloud, showing an escalation of anger leading up to saying he might as well “kill” himself. It would then grow calmer and apologetic. Many of the messages went unanswered, the victim said.
Given the obsessive texting, the woman said she wanted to diffuse the situation. In responding back, she hoped “maybe I might be calming this old guy down. I didn’t know what he was capable of.”
At about 6 p.m. on July 6, she agreed to let him pick her up at a nearby house so that she could obtain her possessions Daugherty placed in storage. Her uncle, who has acted as her guardian since her grandmother’s death in 2006, had ordered her to stay home that day and to stay away from Daugherty.
When he picked her up, he seemed normal at first. “But I could feel his underlying tension,” she told the jury. Early on, he took her to his Skyline Drive property and they spoke for a brief period inside his travel trailer. Later he took her to see her uncle at his work, to let him know she was with Daugherty to pick up her belongings at his storage shed, but would be home by midnight.
While visiting a home, Daugherty became “emotionally unstable,” the woman said. “His personality changed in the short time we were there.” He grabbed her purse and coat and pushed her into the truck, where she had gone to get her bag of clothing.
The next hour involved Daugherty driving at erratic speeds, refusing to drop her off at her uncle’s work, and refusing to let the woman out of the vehicle anywhere from Pioneer Avenue to West Hill. During the drive, Daugherty pulled her hair to try to get her phone away and screamed threats. In frantic text and phone messages to her uncle, the woman asked for help, according the woman’s testimony.
At some point, Daugherty pulled a gun from his truck seat and threatened to kill her, she told the jury. Once back at the Skyline Drive property, the woman tried to escape but he dragged her by the hair across a grassy trail.
A clump of the woman’s hair later gathered by investigators was in the court room as evidence. The gun was never found.
Another key witness was the victim’s uncle, who told of his desperate search on Homer roads once he received texts after 10 p.m. July 6 from his niece letting him know she was in danger. Many of them were dropped calls.
The uncle alerted 911 after the first phone call, telling the dispatcher what he could of the location. He was headed up West Hill to the water Reservoir but didn’t know exactly where that was. Homer Police Sgt. David Shealy was able to get to the area first. He found the victim battered, distraught and dirty.
Daugherty had left when he found the police were on their way, the uncle said.
The girl had a large knot on her head, a cut on her eye brow, and numerous bruises. She was relocated to a protective location in the state’s victim-witness program.
The jury listened to taped recordings of Sgt. Shealy’s initial interview with her as she tried to describe the trauma. Shealy told of the young woman’s condition and events afterwards as he investigated the case,
Daugherty was not immediately arrested. His arrest came later in July.
Daugherty has been jailed at Wildwood for the past eight months. The maximum sentence a judge can impose is one year, or nine months with good behavior. This means Daugherty will have completed his sentence next month, though he won’t be sentenced until later in March.
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