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Guilty verdict in Peabody double murder case

Assistant DA Kate MacDougall shows the shotgun used in the murder as she gives closing arguments for the prosecution of Wes Doughty. (Ryan McBride, Salem News pool photo)

SALEM — It took an Essex County Superior Court jury less than three hours to convict a man in a grisly Peabody double murder case.

Wes Doughty, 42, faces life without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced Monday. Prosecutors convinced the panel that the Peabody man shot Mark Greenlaw, 37, execution-style, and then stabbed his fiancee, Jennifer O’Connor, 40, to death at a Farm Avenue crack house in 2017.  

The verdict cannot bring them back,”  said Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett in a tweet. “May their loved ones find some peace in it.” 

In closing arguments Friday, Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall held the shotgun used to kill Greenlaw and provided the 12-person jury with graphic details of the crime.

“He went downstairs with a revolver, but once there he switched to a shotgun … because of how much bigger Mark Greenlaw was … and realized he needed a bigger gun to take down a bigger man,” MacDougall said. “He shot him at close range, in between the eyes, and shattered the bones in his face. This is a man who never had a fighting chance.”

During the one week trial, prosecutors alleged Doughty killed the couple at a Farm Avenue crack house that was condemned following the crime.  

In addition to the two counts of murder, Doughty was convicted of attempted arson to cover up the crime, carjacking, kidnapping, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon following the murders as he fled. 

Prosecutors said Doughty fled and abducted Kenneth Metz in his car at knifepoint in Middleton, tied him up with the seatbelt, and drove to Boston together. Metz, a 64-year-old grandfather, escaped when Doughty stopped at a liquor store, the state says. Doughty was captured a week later in South Carolina. 

Once Greenlaw was dead, the defendant turned to O’Connor, the only witness, MacDougall told jurors.   

“What does he do next?” she asked the jury.

He took O’Connor into a bedroom where she lay with her head at the foot of the bed, MacDougall said.

“Simply put … he took pleasure in killing Jennifer. She’s just a witness he is trying to get rid of,” she said. “She’s 5-foot-1-inches tall and 119 pounds and had just watched her fiance get his face blown off. He slit her throat. Those shallow wounds you’ve been told about (by his defense lawyer), are not a sign that he didn’t know what he was doing, it’s a sign she suffered, that she was tortured. She begged for her father while she whimpered and he stabbed her once under each breast … I ask you to think about the last moments of Jennifer O’Connors’ life.”

MacDougall asked jurors to convict Doughty of first degree murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“This defendant is guilty of the first-degree murder of Mark Greenlaw with deliberate premeditation, and the first-degree murder of Jennifer O’Connor with deliberate premeditation with extreme atrocity.”

Doughty pled not guilty and never took the stand during the trial. 

Salem attorney John Apruzzese has acknowledged his client is guilty, but asked the jury to consider the circumstances of the home where the murder took place and that Doughty was high on crack. It was a place he called a parallel universe.

“Over four days of testimony, you’ve got a glimpse into the strange world of 19 Farm Ave., a crack house, where the days are nights, and nights are days, a place of violence, a place of drug use and a place of paranoia,” he said. “In the days leading up to Feb. 17, 2017, that entire house, and every person in it, was spiraling out of control.”

He asked jurors to find Doughty guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter. Such a conviction could allow the possibility of parole.

In 2017, a second man, Michael Hebb, 45, who lived in the home, pled guilty to helping Doughty to cover up and attempting to destroy evidence after the couple died. 

Judge Timothy Feeley sentenced Hebb to serve 6- to 7-years in prison followed by 5 years of probation.

Apruzzese declined comment on the verdict. 

The Essex District Attorney’s Office has a strict policy of not allowing prosecutors to talk to the press. 

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