PROVIDENCE – Attorney General Peter Neronha has announced that a Pawtucket woman was sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve a life sentence, plus 20 years, at the Adult Correctional Institutions for her role in the murder of Cheryl Smith in Pawtucket on New Year’s Day in 2020.
Shaylyn Moran, age 20, entered a plea of guilty to one count of first-degree murder, one count of carrying a pistol without a license, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
At a hearing today before Superior Court Justice Kristin Rodgers, the judge sentenced Moran to life in prison for the murder of Cheryl Smith. The court also sentenced Moran to two additional 10-year consecutive sentences for carrying a pistol without a license and conspiring to commit murder.
Had the case proceeded to a trial, prosecutors say they were prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on Jan. 1, 2020, Moran was an accomplice in the murder of Cheryl Smith at Smith’s home on Baxter Street in Pawtucket.
In the months leading up to the murder, Moran developed a long-distance romantic relationship with co-defendant Jack Doherty. During that time, Moran and Doherty conspired on social media and over the phone to attack Moran’s ex-boyfriend.
On Dec. 31, 2019, Doherty traveled from New York to visit Moran for the first time in Rhode Island, bringing with him a 9mm pistol. The two rented a room at a hotel in Pawtucket and left to attend a New Year’s Eve party, where Doherty proposed to Moran.
The two returned to their hotel room and developed a plan for Doherty to shoot and kill anyone who answered the door at the home where Moran’s ex-boyfriend lived on Baxter Street.
On the evening of Jan. 1, 2020, following Moran’s instruction, Doherty traveled to Baxter Street and, after surveilling the home, knocked on the door.
Cheryl Smith answered the door and Doherty shot her four times with his 9mm pistol before fleeing. First-responders rushed Smith to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Investigators for the Pawtucket Police Department tracked down Moran and Doherty several hours later and arrested them as they were exiting their hotel room in Pawtucket. At the time of the arrest, Doherty had the 9mm pistol on him.
Assistant Attorneys Gen. Stephen Dambruch and Joseph McBurney of the Office of the Attorney General and Sgt. Michael Cioe and Det. Justin Gould of the Pawtucket Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of the case.