WALSENBURG, Colo. (AP) – One of three fugitive siblings who were the focus of a nationwide search last summer will have to serve at least nine years in prison after pleading guilty to reduced charges.
Lee Grace Dougherty, 29, pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of attempted first-degree assault and two counts of felony menacing, all felonies.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop 21 other charges. Prosecutors had originally charged her with five counts of attempted second-degree murder and other felonies related to the trio’s capture following a chase in southern Colorado on Aug. 10.
She faces a maximum of 28 years in prison when she is sentenced on April 30.
“It’s the court’s decision on what would be an appropriate sentence,” Judge Claude Appel told Dougherty.
There’s nothing in the deal that requires her to testify against her brothers, Ryan Dougherty, 21, and Dylan Stanley-Dougherty, 26. Authorities have also discussed possible deals with them.
The trio is accused of shooting at a police officer in Florida, as well as robbing a Georgia bank.
Appel agreed to let Dougherty serve her Colorado sentence at the same time as any other sentences that may arise from convictions in Georgia and Florida. Appel noted there’s a federal case pending in Georgia, and possibly a case pending in Zephyr Hills, Fla.
Doughtery appeared in court wearing a yellow jail uniform, with her hands handcuffed to her waist, shackled and with an electronic monitor on her ankle.
She spoke quietly, but firmly as she answered the judge’s question.
“Guilty, your honor,” she answered three times in court as she entered the pleas to each charge.
The most serious charge, attempted first-degree assault, was for pointing a gun at Walsenburg police chief James Chamberlain, who watched the proceedings from a back bench.
Chamberlain shot Dougherty in the knee after the trio rolled their vehicle and Dougherty got out and pointed a gun at him. “I deserved to get shot,” Dougherty allegedly told investigators shortly after being arrested.
Appel asked Dougherty if she was taking any pain medication for the wound that could cloud her judgment in entering a guilty plea.
“No sir, it’s just a scar,” she answered.
The agreement allows Appel to impose sentences harsher than the standard range for the charges she pleaded to. She faces up to six years for each menancing charge, double the standard three years, and 16 years on the attempted first degree assault, double the standard eight years.
Appel noted that the aggravating factors were that the crimes were committed against police officers.
“Chief Chamberlain … I do believe he was off duty but he notified you that he was a police officer,” Appel said.
District Attorney Frank Ruybalid and Dougherty’s defense attorney, Patrick McCarville, declined comment after the hearing, citing a gag order imposed by Appel because of the pending cases against her brothers.
With Lee Grace Dougherty’s case resolved, Ruybalid told Appel he would return to chamberlain a Glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun that had been in evidence since August. Appel agreed to allow that.
Chamberlain also declined comment citing the gag order.
By P. SOLOMON BANDA, Associated Press
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