by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG — A Monday morning appearance by the Dougherty brothers on Jan. 30 resulted in District Court Judge Claude Appel postponing a trial for the two until after they’ve either put in a “not guilty” plea or reached a plea deal with the District Attorney. The judge gave each a deadline of Feb. 16.
Even though Dylan Dougherty was the second sibling to make his appearance in the courtroom, he was the one that seemed to raise the judge’s ire. Judge Appel had ordered that Dylan Dougherty not be brought to Walsenburg, but be kept in custody at the Pueblo County Jail for security reasons. He has been kept in the Pueblo jail since Jan. 12 when Huerfano County Sheriff’s deputies discovered a possible escape plan that was being made by Dylan. The plan included taking his sister Lee Grace Dougherty with him. “Bring in the one I ordered not to be brought here,” the judge said when it was time for Dylan to enter the courtroom.
The escape plan could result in charges being leveled against Dylan. He could be charged with possession of contraband in the Huerfano County jail and conspiracy to escape. The contraband was a homemade knife, commonly called a shank.
The charges are to be filed by the District Attorney by Feb. 6. A decision about Dylan’s other charges as well as Ryan Dougherty’s will be made by Feb. 16.
Dylan made national news last week when the details of his escape attempt (reported first in the HWJ) were made public.
During a routine cell shake down on Jan. 10, deputies found two sealed envelopes addressed to Huerfano County and the FBI, according to an affidavit.
Inside one envelope was a letter allegedly written by Dougherty, to the FBI, stated that when the organization received the letter he would be long gone from the jail and that he would leave behind his escape tools.
Another letter to the jail said, “I have enjoyed staying here, so don’t take any of this personal.”
Deputies said they noticed that a locked hatch door in Dougherty’s cell had been tampered with. Each cell has a hatch to access plumbing, the affidavit said. When they opened the hatch, they found insulation was torn out. A deputy said he saw footprints and followed them to the female cells.
The deputy said he then found a letter to Lee Grace Dougherty, telling her to have all her personal belongings ready and that Dylan was going to get in through the ceiling to the control room where the detention staff was.
The letter said Dylan was going to “drop down on them,” and tie them up, take the keys and walk out.
Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman said this is the first time an inmate has tried to escape through the access panels.
“I have never known of anybody trying to escape through the access panels since the jail has been open, and I have been here that long,” Newman said.
Newman said there is no way inmates could escape through the access panel because there are concrete walls between the ceiling and the roof. “The control room also is blocked a concrete block wall in the panel, so an inmate could not get to that part of the jail that way,” Newman said.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward