Webster gets 60 years to life for 'attempt to assassinate' Manchester police officer
The man convicted of shooting Manchester police officer Daniel Doherty was sentenced to 60 years to life in prison Monday in Hillsborough County Superior Court North.
Judge Gillian Abramson told Myles Webster, 23, formerly of Litchfield: "I find there are no mitigating factors."
Abramson said Webster's actions last March 21, his "obvious attempt to assassinate Officer Doherty," his terrorizing a woman by demanding her vehicle at gunpoint, his firing shots into a building and narrowly missing a resident's head, and his firing a shot from a vehicle at rush hour at the Granite Street Bridge, showed "a profound and utter disrespect for the law."
Acknowledging the sentence she imposed is longer than some murder sentences, Abramson told Webster it was justified because his escalating criminal behavior made it necessary "to remove you from society."
Defense attorney Caroline Smith sought a 20-year-to-life sentence on the attempted murder conviction, with suspended sentences on the other convictions.
She said Webster was just 22 when these events occurred and said a number of studies have shown the brain is not fully developed until about age 25.
"The young man you will sentence is not fully formed," said Smith, arguing a lengthy sentence would be cruel and unusual punishment.
Smith argued that Webster hadn't laid in wait or planned to shoot Doherty, and wasn't really trying to kill Doherty.
The officer had responded to the West Side to assist other officers in locating a man believed to have a gun tucked in the front of his pants. When Doherty spotted Webster and called to him to stop and show his hands, Webster fled and Doherty pursued on foot.
Doherty testified that as he closed in on Webster near the corner of Wayne and Rimmon streets, Webster stopped, spun around and started shooting at him with a .357 Magnum handgun.
Wounded, Doherty was able to get out his service weapon and return fire, but none of the bullets struck Webster. When Webster ran out of bullets, he fled down Rimmon street, weaving in and out of yards, trying to get a car to escape the area. He was finally caught by police a few blocks from the shooting scene, in a back yard on Putnam Street.
Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin said Webster's words and actions showed intent. He said Webster told a companion the afternoon of the shooting that "he would rather kill a cop than go back to prison ... It was a statement of his intent."
Strelzin said Webster fired 14 shots, causing seven wounds in Doherty's body and narrowly missing a resident of the apartment building on the corner of Wayne and Rimmon streets. "The only reason he stopped (is) he ran out of bullets," said Strelzin.
One of those bullets, said Strelzin, hit the end of Doherty's gun barrel, damaging it and injuring Doherty's hand, but not reaching its target.
"That bullet was meant for Officer Doherty's head," said Strelzin.
Other victims submitted impact letters to the judge, but only Doherty spoke at the packed sentencing hearing,
Saying Webster "tried to kill me and failed," Doherty asked for a very significant sentence for Webster.
Doherty said "he shot my uniform," the uniform of a police officer, a protector.
"That person is very capable of trying to take someone else's life," said Doherty.
After the sentencing, Doherty praised Strelzin and Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Karen Gorham. He said: "Absolutely the justice system has worked." He added: "I'm just ready to get on with my life."
Doherty said there may have been some luck involved in his survival, but he also had a guardian angel on his shoulder — Police Officer Michael Briggs, fatally shot in the line of duty Oct. 16, 2006.
Doherty said he will always carry the physical scars, which include a titanium rod in his left leg, but he continues working to return to active duty, hopefully by the anniversary of the shooting, March 21. However long it takes, he said: "I'll be out playing hockey and chasing the bad guys."
Doherty's father, Kevin, was also very pleased with the sentence.
"There should be more judges like her," he said of Abramson.
The breakdown of the sentence imposed by Abramson: 50 years to life for attempted murder; a consecutive sentence of three to 10 years for robbery; two consecutive sentences of 3 1/2 to seven years for reckless conduct; and a concurrent 12-month sentence for resisting arrest.
Webster is also to have no contact with any of the victims or any members of their families.