1 case down, 2 left to go for fugitive siblings
DENVER (AP) -- Three Florida siblings accused of shooting at a police officer and staging a daring bank robbery in a multistate crime spree are facing sentencing on charges stemming from their shootout and capture in Colorado -- effectively ending their stay here as Georgia authorities await their extradition.
Lee Grace Dougherty, 29, Dylan Stanley-Dougherty, 27, and Ryan Dougherty, 22, pleaded guilty to charges related to the Aug. 10 freeway chase and shootout with police in southern Colorado. Once 3rd Judicial District Judge Claude Appel hands down their sentences, the U.S. Marshals Service will transport them to Albany, Ga., for a court hearing on May 15, making it likely they'll be transferred from state to federal custody within days, if not hours of Monday's sentencing.
U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Steve Wallisch declined to comment, citing security concerns.
Dylan Stanley-Dougherty pleaded guilty to one charge of first-degree assault and faces up to 32 years in prison. Ryan Dougherty pleaded guilty to five counts of menacing and faces up to 20 years in prison.
Their sister, 29-year-old Lee Grace Dougherty, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and two counts of menacing. She faces a maximum of 28 years in prison.
As part of plea deals, Colorado prosecutors agreed to drop multiple counts of attempted second-degree murder that could have carried a maximum of 48 years in prison on each count. Prosecutors also agreed to allow Appel to consider sentences that would allow the siblings to serve their Colorado prison time concurrently with any sentences they may get if convicted of pending charges in Georgia and in Florida.
In Georgia, the siblings face bank robbery and firearms charges in connection with a bank robbery in Valdosta on Aug. 2. Witnesses say that two men and a woman, dressed in black and wearing masks, entered the Certus Bank branch just over the Florida state line and fired shots into the ceiling. One carried an AK-47 type assault rifle and an automatic pistol, similar to weapons recovered after the siblings' capture in Colorado.
The siblings later told investigators that Lee Grace Dougherty was to be the lookout and keep the bank's door open, Dylan was to take control of the room, and Ryan's role was to jump over the counter and take the money, authorities said.
The trio made off with about $5,200 and had spent about $1,000 of it by the time police caught up with them in Colorado, authorities said.
Sue McKinney, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, did not return a message seeking comment.
The three are charged with firing shots at a police officer in Zephyrhills, Fla., some 210 miles south of Valdosta, during a high-speed chase earlier on Aug. 2.
In Florida, all three siblings are charged with fleeing or eluding and attempted second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer. Convictions could mean life sentences, according to court officials. Ryan Dougherty also is charged with grand theft auto.
Authorities in Florida said all three siblings had been living together in Lacoochee, about 45 miles northeast of Tampa, and each had a criminal record.
Before the alleged crime spree, Ryan Dougherty had just been sentenced to register as a sex offender for sending sexually explicit text messages to an 11-year-old girl. His mother, Barbara Bell of East Palatka, Fla., said her son feared the conviction would prohibit him from seeing his newborn son.
Bruce Bartlett, chief assistant state attorney for Florida's 6th Judicial District, said authorities there are seeking extradition.
"We'll be seeking sentences that ensure they spend most of their life in prison, if not all of it, so if and when they were to get out of prison they would no longer pose a threat to everyone," Bartlett said in a phone interview.
Ryan Dougherty told authorities in Colorado that the trio hoped to escape to Mexico. They siblings told investigators they traveled across the country in a stolen car, taking back roads to avoid detection.
Lee Grace Dougherty was shot in the knee when she pointed a gun at a police officer after the trio rolled their car on Interstate 25 in Colorado. "I deserved to get shot," she told investigators.