PROVIDENCE — A troubled 28-year-old man who viciously opened fire on an unsuspecting Pawtucket woman when she answered her door on New Year’s Day 2020 must serve two life prison terms plus five years for the killing.
Jack Doherty’s chance for parole remained intact on Tuesday as he put on a pair of dark shades and shuffled out of Judge Kristin Rodgers’ courtroom in Superior Court, Providence.
Doherty, a New Yorker, plotted the 2020 New Year’s Day murder with a Rhode Island woman he had met online, Shaylyn Moran.
The victim, 54-year-old Cheryl Smith, was the mother of Moran’s previous boyfriend.
“It is not difficult to appreciate the severity of the crimes for which the defendant is convicted,” Rodgers said, adding: “A hard-working much loved, caring member of the community, completely innocent, relaxing at her home, answers her front door on New Year’s Day and is gunned down.”
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Doherty accepts sentence with nothing to say to the court
Last year, a jury rejected Doherty’s contention that he was not guilty by reason of insanity.
On Tuesday, citing Doherty’s mental illness, Rodgers rejected the suggestion that the defendant cannot achieve rehabilitation in jail.
She agreed that under the law she had to sentence Doherty to at least two consecutive life terms, calling it a harsh punishment.
She said she did not agree with Assistant Attorney General Stephen Dambruch’s argument that Doherty deserved the maximum penalty of two consecutive life terms plus 20 years.
Doherty’s lawyer, John L. Calcagni III, had asked Rodgers to give Doherty a chance for parole and life outside prison when he is in his 70s.
This would mean penalties for two other offenses that would run concurrent with the double life sentences.
Rodgers gave Doherty an additional five years to serve for conspiracy to commit murder and a 10-year prison term, suspended, with probation, running concurrently with the penalties, for possession of a gun without a permit.
Doherty told her that he had nothing to say to the court.
His silence stood in marked contrast to Robert Guslin Jr., who told the court that the first images he saw from the crime scene on Baxter Street in Pawtucket had “gutted” him.
He was familiar with the house. Guslin described his cousin, Smith, as a woman with a “kind heart.”
He recalled the last time he had conversed with her during a rendezvous in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Dambruch described the crime as “nothing less than a cold and ruthless taking of another human life.”
Doherty’s co-defendant — and fiancée — Moran was sentenced to life in prison in 2021 when she pleaded guilty in the killing.
Rodgers gave Moran life plus two additional 10-year consecutive terms for carrying a pistol without a license and conspiring to commit murder.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Jack Doherty gets two life sentences in New Year’s Day murder of RI woman