The son murdered, the sister’s marriage destroyed, the parents’ health jeopardized, the family back in Scotland fearing for relatives in the United States.
These were among the effects of Dundell Cash’s gunning down 25-year-old Euan Dougal on Nov. 10, 2006, outside the Platinum Club that was then at 2525 Manchester Expressway in Columbus.
Dougal’s family described all they had endured Wednesday before Judge Gil McBride sentenced Cash to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
McBride’s options were limited by the law in place at the time Dougal died. In 2006, Georgia allowed a murder sentence of life without parole only if prosecutors first sought the death penalty. The Georgia General Assembly since has amended the statute, but Cash had to be sentenced according to the law as written when the crime occurred.
Typically a defendant sentenced to life with parole serves 30 years before becoming eligible for release. At age 49, Cash would be 79 by then.
A jury found Cash guilty of murder Jan. 30 for shooting Dougal three times in the chest and abdomen outside the strip club, where Dougal’s then-girlfriend was a dancer. Dougal was 25 years old.
And before his death, he was having “the happiest time of his life,” his father George Dougal testified Wednesday: He’d just started a new job and began dating Samantha Taylor, “the most beautiful woman in Columbus.”
He was visiting her at the nightclub when it closed at 3 a.m. and customers were compelled to leave the building. Witnesses recalled Euan Dougal was standing outside the door, with Cash just two or three feet away, right before the gunfire erupted.
His parents heard what happened when Taylor called them from the hospital about 4 a.m. Their son died that morning.
With witnesses identifying Cash as the likely culprit, Dougal’s family felt certain his arrest was imminent.
It was not.
“He’s already a convicted felon,” George Dougal told the court Wednesday. “He fled the scene and remained free for two years.”
Meanwhile Euan Dougal’s sister Kay Dougal’s marriage was destroyed by the stress and tension that ensued. She divorced in 2007.
Cash finally was arrested in South Carolina on Nov. 2, 2008, and brought back to Columbus – where authorities decided they had to let him go, having lost the one witness who’d told them he saw Cash shoot Dougal.
That witness, Dennis Archer, a homeless man who helped clean up around the nightclub, had left town. Some thought he was dead. Without Archer, prosecutors didn’t think they had much of a case. A grand jury would not indict him, so he was freed.
Cash was jailed just five months before his release, George Dougal said. The suspect moved to Texas, where he served time for drug crimes.
Meanwhile the police found Archer, so they were ready to charge Cash again when he got out of prison in Texas. The case finally came to trial the last week of January, and a jury found Cash guilty on Jan. 30.
That was a relief to his family, though nothing could compensate for what they’d been through.
“This has dominated our lives for the past 10 years,” George Dougal told McBride. The parents were hospitalized because of the stress, and relatives back in their native Scotland were feeling the tension, too. Every telephone call from the folks back home began with Euan Dougal, his death and the status of the criminal case, the father said.
The family is from Eyemouth south of Edinburgh. They moved first to New York and then, 2½ years later in 1990, to Columbus, where the father worked for Polychrome. Euan Dougal would have been around 6 years old then, his sister 8.
In court Wednesday, sister Kay Dougal said her brother is always on her mind: “Not a day goes by that I do not think of him,” she told McBride.
But now the family cannot think of Euan Dougal without Dundell Cash coming to mind.
“He is a sorry excuse for a human being,” George Dougal said, noting his son “did not carry weapons” and “was not known for fighting,” yet Cash shot him repeatedly.
While Cash remained free as police sought Archer, George Dougal kept thinking of him as “free, alive, worthless, but above ground.”
The Dougals asked that McBride give Cash the maximum sentence allowed. No one testified on Cash’s behalf. Defense attorney David Wolfe said his client chose to make no comment during the sentencing hearing.
Prosecutor Chris Williams gave McBride certified copies of Cash’s previous convictions for possessing cocaine and being a convicted felon with a firearm. Williams also asked for the maximum penalty, but the law limited what the maximum could be.
Though 49 now, Cash was born Feb. 19, 1966, so he will turn 50 on Sunday.