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'Never give up': Chisholm man guilty of 1986 murder

A Hibbing jury reached the verdict Tuesday in the case of Michael Carbo Jr., more than 36 years after Nancy Daugherty was raped and killed.

Michael Carbo
Michael Carbo
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HIBBING — It took a jury nine hours across two days to reach a verdict in the murder trial of Michael Allan Carbo Jr.

A lengthy deliberation, but a small wait compared to the 36 years Nancy Daugherty’s family endured before seeing her killer brought to justice.

Nancy Daugherty
Nancy Daugherty

“Don’t ever give up,” Dave Haggard, husband of Daugherty’s daughter, Gina Haggard, said outside the courthouse. “Never give up.”

The 12-member jury found Carbo, 54, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder while committing or attempting criminal sexual conduct in Daugherty’s 1986 death.

Carbo, standing with defense attorney J.D. Schmid, shook his head from side to side as the guilty verdicts were read at 4 p.m. He then sat and stared directly down at the counsel table while Judge Friday individually confirmed the verdict with each juror.

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A few sobs could be heard from the gallery, but all attendees abided by Friday’s request to remain composed during the climactic moment of the multi-week trial.

Carbo will receive an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole when he appears for sentencing Sept. 30.

“We’re disappointed in the verdict,” Schmid said outside the courtroom. “Mr. Carbo is innocent and we do intend to appeal.”

But for the Daugherty family, Tuesday’s verdict was long awaited. They exchanged hugs and shook hands with St. Louis County prosecutors Jon Holets and Chris Florey, as well as Chisholm Police Chief Vern Manner and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Senior Special Agent Paul Gherardi.

Daugherty family members declined further comment, as did members of Carbo’s family. But the prosecutors echoed the sentiments of Daugherty’s family.

“The family said they were just happy that no one ever gave up,” Holets said. “The family and law enforcement.”

Carbo was just 18 at the time of Daugherty's death. The 38-year-old mother of two was found dead in her bed on July 16, 1986, having been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Carbo, who lived within a mile of the victim, did not have any known relationship with Daugherty. He was never a suspect until the Chisholm Police Department contracted with a genetic genealogist to compare crime scene DNA samples against those in privately maintained databases and develop a profile of the suspected killer.

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DNA from several sources at the crime scene, including semen, were conclusively shown to be a match with Carbo. His DNA was also found under Daugherty's fingernails, and authorities said there were signs of a struggle both inside and outside the house.

Schmid did not dispute the DNA evidence, but maintained that his client engaged in consensual sex with Daugherty before she was killed by another person. While barred from explicitly naming an alternative perpetrator, he strong implied that it was a friend of Daugherty's, who knew she was alone and became jealous after seeing her with Carbo.

But St. Louis County prosecutor Jon Holets told jurors that Daugherty's rape and murder were "intertwined," with no other "credible physical evidence" at the scene to point to a different killer.

Carbo was indicted in April on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct while committing or attempting first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

One count alleged he committed the crime while causing a "reasonable fear of imminent great bodily harm" to Daugherty; the other involved causing personal injury during the commission.

Judge Friday instructed jurors Monday that they didn't need to find that Carbo intentionally killed Daugherty — only that he caused her death during the course of intentional sexual penetration.

The trial started Aug. 1 with individual jury selection. The panel heard five days of testimony last week from Daugherty's family, friends and neighbors; law enforcement, and medical and forensic experts. Carbo did not take the stand or call any witnesses.

The jury got the case shortly before 3 p.m. Monday, retiring for the day at 5:30 p.m. They resumed at 9 a.m. Tuesday, asking the judge at midday for definitions of the terms "probable cause," "proof" and "capricious." Friday said he could not provide additional context and referred jurors back to their written instructions.

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In a news release after the verdict, the county attorney’s office sent its condolences to the family of Daugherty, a “wonderful woman who was taken far too soon.”

The case was described as “one of the most exhaustive investigations” ever undertaken in St. Louis County, by many current and former members of the Chisholm Police Department, BCA and St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.

“Today, the jury’s verdicts affirmed what those agencies discovered in their dogged investigation: that Michael Allen Carbo, Jr. raped and murdered Nancy Daugherty in the early morning hours of July 16, 1986,” the statement said. “The County Attorney’s Office is pleased with the courage and commitment to justice shown by the jury, despite the age of the case.”

An expected appeal from Carbo after his sentencing would go directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

This story was updated at 5:47 p.m. Aug. 16 with additional details and comments on the verdict. It was originally posted at 4:18 p.m. Aug. 16.

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Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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