Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Lee Grace Dougherty takes plea in Colorado

Lee Grace Dougherty, one of three siblings in the cross-country crime wave last year that began in Zephyrhills and grabbed national attention, was upbeat Thursday when she accepted a plea deal for charges in Colorado.

"She said 'This is really what I want to do,' " said Rob McCallum, public information officer for Colorado's 3rd Judicial District. She referred to her attorney as "the best lawyer ever" and answered questions with "yes, sir" and "no, sir."

"When the court reporter sneezed, she even said 'bless you,' " McCallum said.

A former exotic dancer, Dougherty pleaded guilty to one count of attempted first-degree assault and two counts of felony menacing. The charges stem from the August capture of her and her brothers, Ryan Dougherty, 22, and Dylan Stanley-Dougherty, 26, after a pursuit in southern Colorado. Authorities say the siblings shot at the officers during the chase, and Lee Grace Dougherty pointed a gun at the Walsenburg police chief before she was shot in the leg.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop five counts of attempted second-degree murder as well as other felony charges.

The 29-year-old faces between nine and 28 years in prison when she's sentenced April 30. The judge said she could serve her Colorado sentence concurrently with any other sentence she may get for charges elsewhere.

However, that doesn't mean Colorado will get shortchanged, McCallum explained.

"If she gets sentenced for less in other jurisdictions, she'll still owe Colorado" the difference, he said.

McCallum said he did not know when Lee Grace Dougherty would be taken into custody to face federal armed bank robbery charges in Valdosta, Ga. or charges stemming from allegedly shooting at Zephyrhills police officer Kevin Widener as he tried to stop the trio's car in Pasco County.

Dubbed "the Dougherty Gang," the siblings led the country on an eight-day manhunt after being accused of shooting at Widener on Aug. 2. Authorities said their next stop was Valdosta, Ga., where they marched into a bank, fired shots into the ceiling and told everyone to hit the floor.

They said they weren't going to be taken alive. They walked out, authorities said, with $52,000.

Ryan Dougherty's designation as a sex offender may have triggered their trek. On Aug. 1, he was sentenced to house arrest and given a monitoring bracelet after being convicted of exchanging sexually explicit text messages with an 11-year-old girl. The next day he and his siblings hit the road with plans to rob a bank and flee to Mexico, he later told a detective. When the Zephyrhills officer tried to pull over their car for speeding, authorities say, the siblings opened fire.

The siblings made news again this year when Stanley-Dougherty allegedly plotted to break out of the Walsenburg, Colo. jail and had found his way into the walls and ceiling of the building. Deputies said they found a homemade knife, a letter addressed to the FBI and the note to his sister that detailed a plan to drop down on guards in the control booth at the jail.

He has since been transferred to the jail in Pueblo, 45 miles away.

McCallum said there's no word yet on whether the brothers have reached plea deals. They are to set to appear in court again Thursday.

Pasco-Pinellas Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia said he has not heard from anyone in Colorado who may be trying to coordinate plea deals.

Pasco court records show they are charged with fleeing and eluding, though sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said shortly after their capture that they would likely be charged with attempted homicide of a law enforcement officer.

This report includes information from the Associated Press and Times files.

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