From left are Ryan Edward Dougherty, 21, Dylan Stanley-Dougherty, 26, and Lee Grace Dougherty, 29. 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 capture in Colorado. Their trial in Albany begins May 15.
DENVER, Colo. — Three Florida siblings accused in a multistate crime spree that involved a daring bank robbery in Georgia were given prison time Monday on charges in Colorado, where they were captured after a nationwide manhunt.
Ryan Dougherty was given 18 years, Lee Grace Dougherty received 24 years and Dylan Stanley-Dougherty got 32 years — the maximum he faced— at separate hearings. Prosecutors say Stanley-Dougherty was the one who fired at officers pursuing the siblings before their Aug. 10 capture.
The hearings effectively end the siblings’ stay in Colorado as Georgia authorities await their extradition.
The three were the focus of a cross-country search last year after authorities say they fired at a police officer in Florida and robbed a Georgia bank. The search ended with a police chase in Colorado, where authorities say Stanley-Dougherty fired at officers before the siblings’ car rolled and crashed into a guard rail.
Lee Grace Dougherty, 29, had faced up to 28 years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree assault and two counts of menacing in the Colorado case. In court Monday, the judge told her that as the oldest of the three siblings, she should have shown better judgment.
“I’d like to say it was a lapse in judgment, but 10 days is not a lapse in judgment,” Lee Grace Dougherty said. “It was bad, poor judgment.”
All three are expected to soon be transported to Albany, Ga., where they face a May 15 court hearing.
In the robbery case, witnesses say two men and a woman, dressed in black and wearing masks, entered a Valdosta, Ga., bank Aug. 2 and fired shots into the ceiling. One carried an assault rifle and an automatic pistol, similar to weapons recovered after the siblings’ capture.
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.
The three also 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, the 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.
Florida authorities said the three had been living together in Lacoochee, Fla., about 45 miles northeast of Tampa, and each had a criminal record.
Before the alleged crime spree, Ryan Dougherty was 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.
Lee Grace Dougherty said in court that her actions were prompted by her desire to protect Ryan.
“My motivation in all of this is I could not lose another sibling,” she said, referring to a sister who died of an illness. “He’s not only my brother. He is my best friend.”
Dylan Stanley-Dougherty’s lawyer, Kobea Becker, also portrayed his client as a loyal family member who was desperate to help his younger brother.
But Judge Claude Appel didn’t buy the explanation.
“You’re saving your brother from a probation sentence, for crying out loud, not a prison sentence,” he said of the siblings’ efforts to prevent Ryan from having to register.
Later, Appel told Ryan that the plan they tried to pull off only works in the movies.
“In reality, this is how the movie ends, serving very lengthy sentences,” the judge said.
Bruce Bartlett, chief assistant state attorney for Florida’s 6th Judicial District, said authorities there also 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 three hoped to escape to Mexico.
Lee Grace Dougherty was shot in the knee when she pointed a gun at a police officer after the siblings rolled their car on Interstate 25 in Colorado.
Prosecutors say Dylan Stanley-Dougherty was the one who fired an assault rifle at pursuing officers before the siblings’ capture in Colorado, and was also the one who fired at a police officer in Florida and a bank robbery in Georgia. During the hearing, he told the judge he was sorry and didn’t want to hurt anyone.
“It is true that I acted out of desperation, and I am sorry for choices that I made,” he said.