Teen sentenced to 7 years in youth prison in deadly Colorado Springs pot shop robbery

Published: Jun. 28, 2019 at 6:35 PM MDT
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A man who was 16 when he participated in a botched robbery that led to the shooting death of an employee at a black-market pot shop in Colorado Springs was sentenced Friday.

Joshua Daugherty was ordered to spend seven years at Youthful Offender Services in Pueblo in the Oct. 30, 2017, killing of Conte Smith-El. A suspended 30-year sentence to adult prison could be imposed against him if he commits new crimes.

Youthful Offender Services is a prison that specializes in intensive rehabilitation for young people convicted of violent offenses.

He had faced five to seven years under an October plea deal to second-degree murder.

Fourth Judicial District Judge G. David Miller said he imposed the maximum because Daugherty fulfilled only part of the bargain — testifying against a co-defendant, as promised, but claiming he didn’t know they were planning to rob the pot shop.

“Anyone who sees the video knows you were an accomplice in this,” Miller said, referring to surveillance footage from inside the store showing that Daugherty entered posing as a customer and later helped tie up Smith-El.

After the shooting, “You were running just as fast as Hill,” the judge told him.

Smith, 24, was fatally shot at an illicit marijuana shop that posed as a consignment shop on a busy commercial corridor on Platte Avenue.

Daugherty pretended to buy cigarettes while an accomplice, Deddrick Devontae Hill, rushed in after him with a semi-automatic rifle. Smith-El was tied up, beaten and shot seven times in the back as he tried to flee, authorities said.

Although Daugherty helped tie up the victim, he didn’t take part in the violence.

The judge said he considered rejecting the plea agreement, but ultimately accepted it because Daugherty’s distortions on the stand didn’t derail the case against Hill, 25, who was convicted at a retrial last week and sentenced to life in prison. His first trial in April ended with a deadlocked jury.

Relatives of Smith-El railed against Daugherty’s lack of accountability, saying it bars any hope of “restoration.” The dead man’s mother, Barbara Jones, a Detroit-based antiviolence advocate, said in court she would like to meet with Daugherty in prison for a “dialogue.”

The judge encouraged Daugherty to accept, saying he must confront his role in Smith-El’s death before he can be fully rehabilitated.

Smith-El’s relatives described him as a “kind” and attentive young man who smiled at strangers and was quick to offer his trust. Smith-El knew Daugherty as a regular customer, explaining why he opened the door for him after hours.

“If it weren’t for this boy behind me, 'Te' would still be alive,” his sister, Charmaine Jones, said in addressing the court, calling Daugherty the “gateway” to her brother’s murder.