The notorious trio that was at the center of a nationwide manhunt last summer has now been sentenced for their crimes in Colorado.
It’s a story 11 News has been following since the beginning. It began as an attempt to flee the country but ended with their capture in Southern Colorado.
Now nearly nine months later, each sibling is facing justice.
Clad in yellow jumpsuits and shackles, one by one the so called “Dougherty Gang” learned their fate.
All three siblings were in tears as they apologized for their life-threatening actions.
Defense attorneys for the two brothers and sister told the judge the siblings were driven by desperation to help the youngest, Ryan, evade probation.
They argued that the criminal episode was forged by a sibling bond created after a childhood filled with tragic loss and abuse.
“My motivation behind my actions was for my brother. I couldn’t deal with losing another sibling. He is not only my brother, but my best friend,” said Lee Grace.
Dylan Stanley-Dougherty was the first of the three siblings to be sentenced Monday.
The prosecution called him the “trigger man”. Dylan was sentenced a maximum of 32 years for firing an AK47 out the car window toward pursuing officers. The 27-year-old plead guilty to one charge of first-degree assault.
The driver, Ryan, will serve 18 years behind bars. The 22-year-old had faced up to 20 years after pleading guilty to five counts of felony menacing.
Sister Lee Grace now faces a prison sentence of 24 years for aiding her brothers and pointing a gun at the Walsenburg Police Chief. The sentence is four-years short of her maximum possible sentence.
While the three sentences close the chapter in Southern Colorado, it’s just the beginning for the Dougherty siblings. They are accused of shooting at a police officer in Florida and staging a daring bank robbery in Georgia. They are facing federal bank robbery charges in Georgia starting May 15. In Florida they are charged with fleeing or eluding and attempted second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer.
As part of plea deals, charges of attempted second-degree murder were dropped. The charges related to the wild high-speed chase and shoot-out on I-25 near Walsenburg last summer. The notorious trio was traveling over 120 mph and was caught after crashing their car because of deployed stop sticks.
This ended their 10 day nationwide crime-spree; a dangerous streak the prosecution said the judge couldn’t ignore.
“The judge was thoughtful and the sentence that he imposed approximates the severity of the crimes and is a just sentence in ensuring the safety of the public,” said Huerfano County District Attorney Frank Ruybalid.
The prosecution asked the judge to consider even the alleged crimes in Georgia and Florida to understand the reckless behavior of the trio.
During Dylan’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors called him the “trigger man”, saying that his crimes “painted a picture that he had no regard for human life or law enforcement”. They added that his attempted escape from Huerfano County Jail showed a lack of remorse and a “shank” found in his cell was intended to cause harm.
The prosecution also questioned Dylan’s remorse by a comment in a magazine article that said if they would have planned it better, they could have gotten away with it. “We definitely have the mustard to do it.”
Dylan’s defense urged the court to take a look at his true character and not just the actions of last summer. She described him as a “kind, hardworking, and loyal person.” The defense argued that his actions were taken out of desperation and he didn’t consider his actions or the consequences. All he could think about was saving his brother.
Dylan was brought to tears as his defense described how he was adopted and how his “father” told him to “take care of your little brother”. The defense said his reckless actions were out of desperation and that Dylan never shot at officers. They claim instead he was just trying to scare them off in order to escape.
Dylan addressed the court and said, “Contrary to many people’s beliefs, I did not intend, try, or want to hurt anybody. It’s true, I acted out of desperation and I’m sorry for the choices I have made.” He apologized to and said he was “truly sorry” to anyone involved including officers and innocent bystanders.
The judge replied, “What you said took courage, but what you did on the highway was nothing but cowardice.”
The defense asked the judge for 16 years and told him that Dylan’s actions were “out of character”.
The judge considered Dylan’s character but couldn’t look past the 11 rounds he fired at officers who never shot back, and the loaded arsenal of weapons in the trunk. There were over a dozen loaded weapons found with nearly 2,000 rounds of ammo. The Walsenburg police chief testified in the preliminary hearing that Dylan tried to get inside the trunk after they crashed, allegedly to access the weapons. The DA called it “ready for a firefight”.
During Lee Grace’s sentencing, the prosecution noted her past education and jobs and called her an “educated woman.” Both the judge and prosecution agreed that “she should have known better, had better judgment” and stopped the crime spree.
Lee Grace received a lesser sentence due to the fact that she was remorseful from the beginning and took responsibility for her actions. In her first interview with investigators she said “I deserved to get shot”.
The defense asked for a 9 year sentence. Friends of Lee Grace who were in the courtroom gasped when they heard the ruling. They told 11 News that even Lee Grace thought she would only serve 9 years.
“She didn’t deserve this. 24 years is so unfair. She is perfect and did not deserve this,” said Lee Grace’s friend.
Lee Grace was misty eyed she addressed the court. She apologized to the victims and listed off their names.
She says she wanted to help Ryan start a new life. “I’d like to say it was a lapse in judgment, but 10 days is not a lapse in judgment. I was bad, poor judgment.”
Lee Grace apologized to the Walsenburg Police Chief who she pointed a gun at back in August. After telling him to drop the weapon three times, he shot her in the leg.
“I was impressed that she took responsibility for what she did. However, that doesn’t change my feelings on what she did,” said Police Chief James Chamberlain.
He told 11 News that he believed beyond a reasonable doubt that she would have killed him if she had the chance. Chamberlain says he is pleased with the sentences.
“To a degree I think they do feel remorse, but more so for being caught than for what they did,” said Chamberlain.
The Police Chief believes it was only by “divine intervention” that none of his officers or the other law enforcement officers got injured or killed.
He adds, “The most important thing for me was going home to my family so I made up my mind if anyone pointed a gun at me I would shoot them first.”
He does say that he received an apology letter from Lee Grace that seemed to be sincere.
Ryan’s defense called him a “pleasant kind-hearted person”. He told the judge, “To say he had a difficult childhood would be a great understatement.”
While he said it doesn’t justify his actions, he asked the judge to take it into account.
He told the court that part of why the siblings were so desperate, is because Ryan was expecting a child in a few weeks. He was afraid if he went to probation, he would never get to see it.
There was no proof that Ryan even loaded or fired a weapon, so the prosecution charged him for aiding and abetting his siblings. And because he was recklessly driving over 120 mph while his brother fired at officers.
The Colorado judge ruled that the sentences here could be served concurrently with other charges in other states. But in order for that to happen, the other judges have to rule the same thing.
The District Attorney says there is a possibility that the siblings could serve all their time in Colorado, if the federal system does not have enough room for them in prison.