'Dougherty gang' sister enters guilty plea in Colorado
Lee Grace Dougherty, one of the fugitive siblings of the Dougherty gang caught after a nationwide dragnet last summer, has pleaded guilty to reduced charges in Colorado and will have to serve at least nine years in prison, officials said.
Dougherty, 29, appeared in Huerfano County District Court in Walsenburg, Colo., about 160 miles south of Denver, on Thursday to plead guilty to one count of attempted first-degree assault and two counts of felony menacing, all felonies, according to court records.
As part of the plea, prosecutors agreed to drop 21 other charges against Dougherty, said Rob McCallum, a spokesman for the Colorado Judicial Department, who spoke with The Times.
Prosecutors had charged Dougherty, a former stripper, with five counts of attempted second-degree murder and other felonies connected with the chase and capture of her and her two brothers in southern Colorado on Aug. 10. The chase proved to be the end of what authorities described as a seven-state crime rampage by the clan dubbed “Bonnie, Clyde & Clyde.”
There's nothing in the deal that requires Dougherty to testify against her younger brothers, Ryan Dougherty, 21, and Dylan Stanley-Dougherty, 26.
The three are accused of shooting at a police officer in their native Florida, and later robbing a Georgia bank on their way to Colorado.
The most serious charge in Colorado, attempted first-degree assault, was for pointing a gun at Walsenburg Police Chief James Chamberlain, who watched Thursday’s plea hearing from a back bench, McCallum said. Chamberlain shot Dougherty in the knee after she and her brothers rolled their car at the end of a lengthy high-speed chase and she emerged pointing a gun at him.
At Thursday’s hearing, the judge asked Dougherty if she was taking any pain medication for the wound that could cloud her judgment in entering a guilty plea, and she assured him she was not, that it was just a scar, McCallum said.
Dougherty appeared before Huerfano District Court Chief Judge Claude Appel on Thursday in a yellow jail jumpsuit, hands shackled at her waist, her blond-brown hair darker than it was in August and pulled back in a ponytail, McCallum said.
McCallum said the judge took his time in reviewing the plea with Dougherty.
“He was very methodical this morning with Lee Grace — he wanted to make sure she understood,” McCallum said.
In response, Dougherty said of the plea: “This is really what I want to do.”
McCallum described Dougherty as “very quiet, very respectful to the court.”
At one point, when the judge asked Dougherty if she was satisfied with her attorney, court-appointed public defender Patrick McCarville, Dougherty described him as “the best lawyer ever,” McCallum said.
“She seemed to be in a good mood,” McCallum said.
Dougherty’s attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday. The prosecutor handling the case did not return calls. The judge has imposed a gag order because of the pending cases against Dougherty’s brothers, McCallum said.
Dougherty faces a maximum of 28 years in prison when she is sentenced April 30, McCallum said. The judge agreed to let Dougherty serve her Colorado sentence at the same time as any other sentences she may receive stemming from charges filed against her in Georgia and Florida.
She was being held at the Huerfano County Jail on Thursday, McCallum said.
Her two brothers are next scheduled to appear at plea hearings in Colorado on Feb. 16, but it was not clear Thursday whether their cases will go to trial, McCallum said.
Ryan Dougherty was being held at the Huerfano County Jail on Thursday, but brother Dylan Dougherty had been moved to Pueblo County Jail and now faces additional charges after he allegedly attempted to escape and was caught with contraband, McCallum said.
-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Photo: Lee Grace Dougherty is shown in August at the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office detention center in Pueblo, Colo., the day after she was arrested along with her two younger brothers. Credit: Mike Sweeney / Pueblo Chieftain