Bizarre tale of murder ends
Just over a year ago, three people shared the same property in Big Oak Valley near Smartville.
The owner, Martin Daugherty, resided in a trailer with his caregiver, Julie Biswell. Her ex-boyfriend, Charles James “Chuck” Smith, lived in a nearby cabin.
This week, Daugherty died from health problems, capping a string of tragedies that leaves all three people dead and the Hutto Road property hauntingly quiet.
“It’s kind of trippy. Really strange,” neighbor Lou Silva said Thursday. “I don’t know what to think about the whole thing. All three people were good people, and now all three are gone. I had nothing against Chuck. He just flipped out one night.”
On Feb. 16, 2002, a drunk and enraged Smith, 40, fatally stabbed Biswell, 41, after she refused to have sex with him. Their struggle, captured on a sheriff’s dispatcher’s recording, was played to jurors who convicted Smith of first-degree murder. Daugherty, having watched the stabbing in his trailer before calling 911, was the case’s chief witness.
Smith last month was sentenced to 86 years to life in prison. Three days later, however, he died of a suspected drug overdose after being found unconscious in his prison cell. Toxicology results are still pending.
The only unsurprising death of the three was Daugherty’s. The 48-year-old died Monday night, a year and a day after the murder, at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.
He had suffered from congestive heart failure, diabetes and other ailments. His condition was so bad, a Nevada County Superior Court judge agreed to videotape his testimony last spring in case he died. Daugherty lived through the trial but his condition was worsening, and jurors instead watched his video in court.
Biswell’s parents, Bruce and Jane Pusheck of Lake Wildwood, helped care for Daugherty in his final months. They drove him to veterans’ hospitals in Reno and Palo Alto and were along when he got a heart pacemaker. They didn’t know much about his background but learned he had two sisters, one in Lake Wildwood and another in Southern California.
“He was pretty helpless by the time we got to know him,” Bruce Pusheck said Thursday. “I think it was a lot of booze and living the fast life, so to speak, and it caught up with him.”
Biswell’s care prolonged his life, Bruce Pusheck believes, and she staved off the amputation of Daugherty’s feet through regular massages to help with blood circulation.
Hours before dying, Daugherty called Jane Pusheck from the hospital, saying he needed to see her, according to Bruce Pusheck.
“Marty said to her, ‘Well, I guess I’m going to see Julie today.’ “
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