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Jury: 23-year-old guilty of trying to kill Manchester officer

It took jurors less than two hours yesterday to reject the “mistaken identity” defense put forth by lawyers for Myles Webster and to convict him of attempted murder in the shooting of Manchester police Officer Dan Doherty.

Doherty, who went down in a hail of bullets March 21, left the courtroom to thunderous applause as he walked through a gauntlet of police officers lining the corridor.

Webster, 23, showed no reaction as the guilty verdicts were read but shook his head in the negative as jurors rose to leave the courtroom. Several of his relatives and friends left the courthouse without comment. He is to be sentenced March 28.

Doherty said after the verdicts were read that he “absolutely” looks forward to returning to work soon “as long as this never happens again.” He said his recovery from seven gunshot wounds in his legs and torso has been tough, then he swept an arm toward the crowd of uniformed officers who had packed the courtroom for the verdicts.

“All the people who were standing behind me is what got me through it,” Doherty said.

Webster’s lawyers declined to comment yesterday, saying they were on their way to meet with him.

During final arguments, defense attorney Robert Swales said Webster didn’t shoot Doherty, and challenged the credibility of witnesses. Swales said the police made the case fit the man they had in custody. He said they made a “conscious, collaborative” decision not to show witnesses a photo array of suspects when the police realized witnesses had given differing descriptions of the man they saw Doherty chasing and of the man’s clothing.

The verdicts came after six days of testimony, during which prosecution witnesses identified Webster as the man Doherty was chasing and the man who wheeled around and fired at the officer.

Doherty testified that at the intersection of Rimmon and Wayne streets, Webster turned and raised a gun as Doherty lost his balance and fell backward. Prosecutors said Webster fired 14 shots in all at Doherty before Doherty drew his gun and returned fire.

Webster, who did not take the stand, also was convicted of two counts of felony reckless conduct for firing a bullet out of a car on Granite Street that night and for gunshots that sailed through a nearby apartment during the Doherty shooting. He also was convicted of resisting arrest and of robbery for demanding a woman’s car and keys while fleeing the scene of the shooting.

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