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Duluth funeral home director pleads not guilty in DWI crash that killed two people

Daniel Dougherty

The operator of Dougherty Funeral Home in Duluth pleaded not guilty Thursday to driving under the influence of a controlled substance in an accident that resulted in the death of two men.

Daniel Dougherty, 50, of Hermantown entered the plea before Sixth Judicial District Judge Shaun Floerke in St. Louis County District Court. He also pleaded not guilty to charges of careless driving, failure to obey a traffic control signal and speeding.

He told the court he understood the charges against him and wanted to move forward. He said he was being represented by Duluth defense attorney David Keegan.

Dougherty is charged with driving under the influence of Ambien, a prescription sleep aid. He told a Minnesota State Patrol trooper that he might have put his Ambien pills into another prescription bottle that contained a cholesterol medication.

Dougherty is accused of running a red light on U.S. Highway 53 in Hermantown on March 16. His GMC Yukon crashed broadside into a Toyota Camry driven by Timothy John Schlies as it crossed Highway 53 on Arrowhead Road. Schlies died at the crash scene. His passenger, Hans Champney Warren, was critically injured and later died in a Duluth hospital.

The vehicle speed data from Dougherty's vehicle indicated he was traveling 58 mph in a 50 mph zone five seconds before the crash.

A woman who identified herself as a member of Schlies' family declined comment outside the courtroom. Dougherty also declined comment.

All four of the charges against Dougherty are misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. The guideline penalty is a presumed stayed sentence at the discretion of the judge and non-jail probationary sanctions.

Dougherty's next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 12.