The three people accused of running down a Washington County deputy last year as they were fleeing from other officers for a robbery incident were convicted of attempted aggravated robbery and felony reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon — a lesser included charge of the original attempted murder they had faced.
Dalvin Stephens, 20, Reginald Dewayne Smith, 43, and Ashley Nicole McGraw, 19, all of Johnson City, were originally charged with attempted first-degree murder for running down Deputy Gary Daugherty on Jan. 2, 2012, and attempted aggravated robbery for an incident that occurred at 310 Sand Valley Road prior to the officer getting hit.
The jury listened to two days of testimony from the state and defense — including Stephens and Smith. Smith was the one accused of entering the residence on Sand Valley Road with a gun and demanding money and marijuana while Stephens and McGraw waited in the car.
Stephens was driving McGraw’s car that day and when one of the robbery victims, Eric McElyea, called 911. He was able to give a description of Smith and the red Cavalier the three left in.
Sgt. Lee Cross spotted the car not far from that scene and began a pursuit that ended up on Tenn. Highway 81 South. Daugherty was also responding, but from the other direction. He got into a position to throw out spike strips in hopes of flattening the suspect’s car. But when he attempted to unroll it, the strip got tangled. Stephens veered to the left — the defense contended he was trying to avoid the officer — but Daugherty took a few steps backward and was hit.
The impact tossed him into the air and he landed more than 70 feet away. He suffered life- and limb-threatening injuries, according to brief medical testimony from the doctor who treated him.
Stephens continued driving and didn’t stop until he hit a tree and wrecked. All three bailed from the car and fled on foot, but they were apprehended quickly by other officers who responded.
On Tuesday, Daugherty testified he wasn’t sure he “was going to make it,” after the incident and was out of work 13 months. He testified emotionally at times about the injuries he suffered — particularly when viewing photographs of the crash and of himself in the hospital.
Also on Tuesday, Stephens told the jury he took Smith to the Sand Valley Road residence so Smith could buy marijuana. He said he had no knowledge of any weapon Smith could have had, which McElyea and Daniel Hylmon, had testified about on Monday. They said Smith came into their home on Sand Valley Road with a gun and demanded money and drugs, although they claimed to have none.
Stephens also testified he fled from officers because he had no driver’s license, was on misdemeanor probation and didn’t want to go to jail. He said he never intended to hit Daugherty and even apologized to the deputy from the witness stand.
Smith had faced additional charges of unlawful possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence for allegedly throwing out the gun. Those charges were dismissed by Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood after he determined the state’s evidence failed to prove it. At the beginning of the trial, Stephens pleaded guilty to all driving on a suspended license and felony evading arrest.
Blackwood set the sentencing for June 10. Stephens and Smith remain in custody in lieu of bond while McGraw was allowed to remain free on her bond.