CHEYENNE – The plea deal offered in the case where a man allegedly kidnapped, sexually assaulted and beat his then-wife was rejected Tuesday by Laramie County District Court Judge Steven K. Sharpe.
Daniel Doby’s change-of-plea hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, but after Sharpe said he wasn’t willing to go along with the plea agreement, Doby declined to change his plea.
The plea agreement said Doby would only have to give an Alford plea to one count of strangulation and pay a $10,000 fine, with $5,000 suspended. All other charges are to be dismissed by the state, along with a separate case in which Doby allegedly violated a protection order by having contact with the alleged victim, Jennie Bessert.
Doby was arrested July 24, 2017, and charged with kidnapping with inflicting bodily injury, first-degree sexual assault, aggravated assault and battery with a threat and deadly weapon, two counts of applying pressure on the throat or neck, blocking the nose or mouth, interference with an emergency call and domestic battery.
His trial is now scheduled for Dec. 10, and prosecuting attorney Caitlin Harper has taken over the case, since former prosecutor Angela Dougherty died Friday.
Doby’s attorney, Robert T. Moxley, said he remains cautiously optimistic of the possibility of resolving the case, but said he also is not afraid of taking the case to trial.
But the judge said he simply refused to go along with the existing plea deal.
“I will not follow the stipulated plea agreement in this case,” Sharpe said. “The court has a responsibility to justice.”
Crying tears of joy in the courtroom, Bessert and her family embraced each other – glad they’ll finally see their day in court. Bessert was Doby’s wife at the time he allegedly kidnapped, sexually assaulted and beat her.
“Nobody thought that this outcome was going to happen. I was completely blown away, and completely in utter shock and disbelief that my voice might have been heard,” Bessert said. “Maybe somebody’s finally listening, and (Sharpe) did say he believes in our justice system, and that gives me hope. Maybe (Doby) will be held accountable for his actions.”
Sharpe said he believes in the justice system, and if Doby believes he’s innocent, then he should go to trial. He also said he’s willing to accommodate any modifications Doby might need due to his medical conditions.
Sharpe also said Doby’s doctor can testify to see what Doby’s limitations are for participating in a trial and can instruct the jury accordingly.
Moxley said Doby could only focus for time periods of two to four hours, so he’s concerned about Doby’s ability to participate in a trial. Sharpe said he can accommodate this by doing half-days, if necessary.
Sharpe also said he doesn’t want to see Doby plead guilty to a charge Doby believes he didn’t commit.
Hearing Sharpe speak Tuesday in court, Bessert said it helped restore some of her faith in the justice system that was previously lost with the plea agreement. For her, justice would mean seeing Doby incarcerated.
She said it’s important for the justice system to remember the defendants aren’t the only people in the case, and the victims are also part of the case and deserve to be heard.
“I have a name, I have a voice, and justice will prevail,” she said.