by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG — Lee Grace Dougherty will face trial on all 29 counts she has been charged with despite attempts by her attorney, Public Defender Patrick McCarville, to have the upcoming trial deal only with events that occurred during and after the time she pointed a gun at Walsenburg Police Chief James Chamberlain.
According to McCarville, that event is the only alleged crime that has any evidentiary support. He also introduced motions seeking to have statements and evidence from the alleged crimes in Florida and Georgia blocked from the trial.
However Huerfano and Las Animas County District Attorney Frank Ruybalid argued that the events in the two states were necessary to the Huerfano County trial in order to establish complicity on the part of Lee Grace Dougherty. Complicity means that she had knowledge of, participated in, or supported the prior crimes and knew that such actions were likely to happen again in Colorado if the trio was pursued by officers.
Ruybalid stated that by having knowledge of or partaking in the other crimes in Florida and Georgia, Dougherty was an accessory to the crimes in Colorado.
He said, “… the chain of events shows consistent intent by Dougherty to evade law enforcement and fire at law enforcement when necessary to secure their escape.” He further stated that she was aware her brothers had the same intent they had in Florida and Georgia.
The prosecution will pursue their case with the “complicity theory” because it is not clear if Dougherty was the one firing at law enforcement officers during the high speed chase from Colorado City to Walsenburg.
Two Huerfano County Sheriff deputies testified in the preliminary hearing on Sept. 20, 2011, that they were convinced Dougherty was the one pointing the gun out the window of the Impreza and pulling the trigger, shooting at the five pursuing vehicles. During the same hearing, state troopers who were in pursuit could only testify to an anomaly at the passenger side rear window firing at them. Ruybalid said he believed that the deputies were sincere but they were mistaken.
Surveillance video from the gas station in Colorado City where the siblings were spotted moments before the chase began was discussed. The video reportedly showed a female getting into the front passenger seat, and a male getting into the back seat. The investigation determined that Ryan was driving leaving Dylan in the backseat. When the car was discovered, the front passenger window was rolled up, and the back window down.
The siblings are accused of shooting at police officers in Florida in order to help Ryan escape probation. And they are accused of robbing a bank at gun point in Georgia. Ruybalid said they will work to show the jury that the timeline proves Lee Grace was aiding and abetting her brothers in order to help Ryan skip probation and evade officers in an attempt to escape to Mexico.
McCarville argued that allowing evidence and testimony from alleged crimes committed in other states was in violation of Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b). This rule states that a defendant may be tried only for the charges made and not for crimes past or for who they are.
District Judge Claude Appel overruled the defense’s argument, allowing the alleged crimes the Doughertys are charged with in other states to be brought into the trial of Lee Grace Dougherty.
The hearing lasted over four hours. The judge heard arguments from both the defense and prosecution on 90 motions, mostly filed by McCarville.
During the arguments, Ruybalid also stated that he may bring in Dougherty’s brothers, Ryan and Dylan Stanley, to testify during the Feb. 21, 2012 hearing.
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