'Sibling Gang" members sentenced for bank robbery, chase

3:44 PM, Apr 30, 2012   |    comments
  • Dylan Dougherty at his sentencing (KUSA)
  • The Dougherty gang (KUSA Denver/The Pueblo Chieftain)
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WALSENBURG - The "Dougherty Gang" - as they came to be known were sentenced Monday morning for their involvement in a cross-country crime spree where they shot at police officers, lead authorities on a high-speed chase and allegedly robbed a bank in Georgia.

The Dougherty Gang, which includes brothers Dylan, Ryan and their sister Lee Grace Dougherty, were on the run from Florida and ended up in Colorado in August 2011. The gang dubbed "Bonnie, Clyde & Clyde," are also accused of robbing a bank in Georgia and firing at police in a couple of states, including Colorado as they tried to run from troopers along Interstate 25 near Walsenburg.

The Dougherty Gang pleaded guilty to various charges against them and were sentenced at the Huerfano County Courthouse Monday morning. Dylan was sentenced first. He was sentenced to 32 years.

Dylan Dougherty's sentencing

"I never tried to hurt anybody," said a teary-eyed Dylan Dougherty - one of the three siblings being sentenced to 32 years on Monday in the Huerfano County jail.

"Contrary to people's belief, I never tried to hurt anyone. It's true, I had desperation. I'm sorry for the choices I've made," Dougherty said to the judge, while trying to maintain composure, as he cried and wiped tears from his face.

He was dressed in a yellow jumpsuit, his hair pulled back in a ponytail.

"I wish I had done things differently," Dougherty said, "Not sure what I would've done differently. Actions I did take were not my character."

The prosecution described the three-state crime spree in detail. Assistant District Attorney Clay McKisson told the court Dylan Dougherty was the "trigger man". He fired, "not once or twice, but 11 times that we know of at the troopers chasing him, without regard for the lives of the officers."

Dougherty also tried to escape from the Huerfano County jail.

"What we see is sustained effort on behalf of [Dylan Dougherty] to escape capture by whatever means necessary. Whatever the cost of human life might be," McKisson told the court.

A metal shank was also found in Dougherty's cell.

His attorney told the court he grew up a middle child of five. He was close to his two siblings.

"Hard worker and extremely loyal," his defense attorney called him.

His defense attorney Cobea Becker told the court Dylan wanted to help his brother Ryan, which is how the entire incident began. Ryan was on probation in Florida.

"Nothing occurred here in Colorado was done with any rational thought at all," Becker told the court. "He didn't consider the consequences of his actions. Mr. Dougherty never meant to hurt anyone."

Becker added Dylan was shooting warning shots, in an attempt to get away and intentionally not hitting any one of the officers.

"His behavior shows desperation to help his brother," Becker said.

"We can't blames this on drugs, we can't blame this on alcohol, we did this stone-cold sober. When I say we - I mean you and your siblings," said Judge Claude Appel while talking about Dylan's possible sentence. "What you said took a lot of courage, but what you did on the highway took a lot of cowardice."

As the judge described the gang's actions and possible consequences as they opened fire at the troopers chasing them, Dougherty shook his head.

"You were bound and determined to go out in the blaze of glory," Judge Appel said. "You certainly didn't surrender. You could've said this is crazy, let's stop. You could've stopped this any time."

"How did you protect him [Ryan Dougherty] by endangering everyone else's lives?" Judge Appel asked.

Lee Grace pleaded guilty to one count of attempted first-degree assault and two counts of felony menacing - all of which are felonies.

Lee Grace Dougherty's sentencing

An almost cheerful and smiling Lee Grace Dougherty appeared in the Huerfano County Courthouse for her sentencing Monday morning. She was sentenced to 24 years.

Dougherty, with a new bob-like haircut, in the yellow jumpsuit looked around the courtroom, waved and smiled at people she knew in the courtroom.

Lee Grace is the older sister of Dylan and Ryan Dougherty.

"I would like to again take this opportunity to apologize for my actions," said Lee Grace Dougherty when she addressed the court - crying. "My motivation behind my decision was to protect my younger brother. He's not only my brother, but my best friend."
"I didn't set out to harm anyone. My only thought was to get my brother to another country and help him start another life."

Ryan Dougherty was facing up to 15 years in prison for violating his probation in Florida.

"I could say it was a momentary lapse in judgment, but 10 days is not a momentary lapse of judgment," Dougherty said.

She apologized to a number of law-enforcement officers, including Walsenburg Police Chief James Chamberlain, who she pointed a gun at before Chief Chamberlain shot her, slightly injuring Dougherty.

"I've come to accept the time I will spend in prison," Dougherty said.

She promised to use her time wisely and plans to study forensic pathology and some day work in the coroner's office.

Huerfano County District Attorney Frank Ruybalid testified in court. He called it "the case of missed opportunities."

"It's surprising how little criminal history Lee Grace and Dylan have," Ruybalid said.

He called Lee Grace articulate and an educated young woman.

"She knew better," Ruybalid said.

Daugherty pleaded guilty to one count of attempted first-degree assault and two counts of felony menacing, all of which are felonies.

Barbara Bell, the mother of the Dougherty Gang, wrote a letter to the court, parts of it were quoted during the hearing for Dylan and Lee Grace.

Bell wrote in part, "Let's talk about consequences, surely three people can come up with a plan better than a stupid crime spree," district attorney Ruybalid read to the judge.
Ruybalid said."She's lucky to be alive today - given their behavior."

Lee Grace's attorney Pat McCarville asked the court to impose a minimum sentence of nine years.

"This criminal episode is really forged by sibling bond," McCarville said. "I've been told stories of childhood abuse. She would run outside and say, 'Come on,' and lead her siblings away from harm."

She's the oldest of the siblings.

"It was a foolish attempt to help her brothers," McCarville said.

McCarville said she'll face authorities in Florida and Georgia for those actions.

"It defies common sense," said Judge Claude Appel, "You're on probation in Florida, your brother is on probation."

As an older sibling, Judge Appel said Lee Grace should've known better.

"'This is nuts, we should just surrender, this is crazy, you're gonna get us all killed,'" Judge Appel told Lee Grace.

"This is a bad situation that just go worse," Lee Grace wrote in her pre-sentence report, as Judge Appel read.

The plan was, as the judge read, for the trio to work and live in Belize indefinitely.

Lee Grace faces 28 years in prison. Ryan faces 20 years.

(KUSA Denver)

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