Jury finds New York man guilty of 2020 New Year’s Day murder of 54-year-old Pawtucket woman
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that a New York man has been found guilty in Providence County Superior Court of the 2020 murder of 54-year-old Cheryl Smith in Pawtucket on New Year’s Day.
On November 15, 2022, following the conclusion of an eight-day jury trial before Superior Court Justice Kristen E. Rodgers, the jury found Jack Doherty (age 26) guilty of one count of murder, one count of discharge of a firearm when committing a crime of violence, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and one count of carrying a pistol without a permit.
The defendant is currently being held without bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) pending a sentencing hearing to be scheduled for a later date in Providence County Superior Court.
On August 5, 2021, a co-defendant, Shaylyn Moran (age 21), was convicted of murder and sentenced to serve life in prison, plus 20 years, for her role in the murder of Cheryl Smith.
At trial, the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that on January 1, 2020, the defendant shot and killed Cheryl Smith at her home on Baxter Street in Pawtucket.
The State established at trial that in the months before the murder, the defendant developed a long-distance romantic relationship with co-defendant Shaylyn Moran. During that time, the co-defendants conspired to attack Shaylyn Moran’s ex-boyfriend during conversations on social media and over the phone.
On December 31, 2019, the defendant traveled from the state of New York to visit Shaylyn Moran for the first time in Rhode Island, bringing with him a 9mm ghost gun pistol. The two rented a room at a hotel in Pawtucket, and later left to attend a New Year’s Eve party, where the defendant proposed to Shaylyn Moran.
The two returned to their hotel room and developed a plan for the defendant to shoot and kill anyone who answered the door at the home where Shaylyn Moran’s ex-boyfriend lived on Baxter Street.
On the evening of January 1, 2020, following Shaylyn Moran’s instruction, the defendant traveled to Baxter Street and after surveilling the home, knocked on the door.
Cheryl Smith answered the door, and the defendant shot her four times with his 9mm ghost gun pistol, before fleeing. First-responders rushed Cheryl Smith to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Investigators from the Pawtucket Police Department tracked down the co-defendants several hours later and arrested them as they were exiting their hotel room in Pawtucket. At the time of the arrest, the defendant was in possession of the 9mm ghost gun pistol.
At trial, the State successfully rebutted the defendant’s affirmative defense that he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Special Assistant Attorney General Stephen Dambruch and Assistant Attorney General Joseph McBurney of the Office of the Attorney General and Sergeant Michael Cioe and Sergeant Justin Gould of the Pawtucket Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of the case.