A prison inmate who has served more than 15 years of a life sentence for killing his mistress and dumping her in Lancaster County lost his latest challenge to the conviction.
A local jury convicted Alphonso Sanders in 2000 of first-degree murder for killing Kim Lori Dougherty and leaving her body at Muddy Run Park. He received a mandatory life sentence.
Sanders argued that a chance for relief emerged in 2014 when he learned an FBI agent trial witness wasn’t completely accurate in testimony regarding hair found in Sanders’ van.
The FBI agent testified, inaccurately, that the hair evidence matched to Dougherty. Accurate testimony would’ve indicated Dougherty couldn’t be ruled out as a match with the hair evidence.
Lancaster County Judge James Cullen, in a recent denial of Sanders’ petition for relief, said the hair evidence alone didn’t sway the jury’s verdict.
Sanders “exaggerates the significance of (the agent’s) testimony” about the hair, Cullen wrote in an 11-page opinion.
Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson, in response to Sanders’ filing, argued the same.
There was other evidence presented at trial that was “more than sufficient” to support a guilty verdict, Cullen wrote, including:
- Sanders, formerly of New Jersey, was having an extramarital affair with Dougherty and was the last person seen with her while she was alive.
- Blood evidence - matched to Dougherty - and some of Dougherty’s belongings, including her wallet, were found in Sanders’ van.
- A pamphlet from Muddy Run Park was found in Sanders’ van.
- During a prison visit, Sanders was overheard asking his wife to provide an alibi.
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman won the trial conviction, following three weeks of testimony and deliberation.
It was never determined exactly where Dougherty was killed. Stedman has said circumstantial evidence showed she was likely killed somewhere in the Delaware Valley. She was beaten and shot in the head. A fisherman found her at Muddy Run.
(See CrimeWatch/Twitter for Sanders' photo.)
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