It has been a long, hard road for the family of a 25-year-old man gunned down 10 years ago outside a Columbus nightclub, but it has finally turned a corner.
A jury Monday found Dundell Cash guilty of murder for shooting Euan Dougal three times in the chest and abdomen on Nov. 10, 2006, outside the Platinum Club that was then at 2525 Manchester Expressway, just west of Interstate 185.
Judge Gil McBride set Cash’s sentencing for 1 p.m. Feb. 15. He faces life in prison without parole. He is 49 now.
After the verdict, Dougal’s sister Kay and parents George and Susan Dougal sat in the district attorney’s office and talked about the son and brother they lost, and their long journey to justice.
They are originally from Scotland, from Eyemouth south of Edinburgh. Euan and Kay were just kids when the family moved to America, first to New York and then, 2½ years later in 1990, to Columbus, where the father worked for Polychrome.
Euan would have been around 6 years old then.
“Euan was really a quiet, shy kind of person, particularly when he was a kid,” the father recalled. “Even when he was in his teenage and adult years, he kept a small circle of friends, didn’t mix very readily. … Not a great student, but a smart guy in his own right.”
And he was a child with a peculiar interest in exotic animals, and not the cuddly kind: He liked fish, snakes, spiders and scorpions. It made cleaning his room an adventure, his mother said.
“He was very into animals and exotic stuff, snakes and reptiles and toads, anything that was tough to keep, he would take it on, and he did it very successfully,” the father said. “A friend of mine once said keeping saltwater fish was like throwing dollar bills down the toilet, and Euan managed to keep them alive and kept them going.”
He was no academic, however: “Twice he tried college. College didn’t appeal to him. Then he started working in construction,” the father said.
Euan worked for his father’s employer for about a year, then for Harvey Lumber Co.
“And then, just before he was murdered, he’d just started working with Bi-City Heating & Cooling, and he’d just met Samantha, and it was one of the happiest periods of his life.”
Samantha is Samantha Taylor, who was Euan’s girlfriend. She helps run a business with her fiancé now, but back in 2006, she was a dancer at the Platinum Club, where Euan that November night had gone to see her.
She testified in Cash’s trial, recalling that after the club closed around 3 a.m., she had stepped outside to speak to Euan, and noticed Cash standing right next to him. A bouncer told her to go back inside – club rules prohibited dancers venturing unaccompanied into the parking lot – and she was walking through the door when she heard the gunfire, she said.
Witnesses said all the club’s female employees then retreated downstairs to the dressing rooms, and did not come back up until the police arrived.
Taylor called Euan’s parents from the hospital to tell them what had happened. It was around 4 a.m.
“The ER doctor told us to prepare ourselves for the worst,” the mother recalled. “And then we got up to the waiting room, and then one of the detectives came in and said, ‘You know, they can do amazing things here,’ and we thought everything was going to be OK.”
It was not. They soon were summoned to a private room to be told Euan had not survived.
Then they started waiting for Cash to be arrested.
“We were expecting Cash to get picked up. I mean, he was in the town,” said the father. “The police said it was only a matter of time.”
The police were right, but that matter of time turned out to be two years. Cash had fled town. He finally was arrested in South Carolina on Nov. 2, 2008, and brought back to Columbus – where authorities decided they had to let him go.
They had found Cash, but lost the one witness who’d told them he saw Cash shoot Euan. Dennis Archer, who helped clean up around the nightclub, had left town. Some thought he might be dead.
Without Archer, prosecutors didn’t think they had much of a case. A grand jury would not indict him, so he was freed.
He went to Texas, where he got arrested for something else and served prison time.
Meanwhile Euan’s mother, determined to keep track of Cash, stayed in touch with the district attorney. In 2014, she learned investigators had found Archer living in New Jersey.
Then prosecutors had their star witness, and Cash was about to get out of prison in Texas.
“Before he got free from Texas, my mom was emailing the DA, because she didn’t want him out, free,” said Euan’s sister. “So he was about to get free, and she’s like, ‘Can we not prosecute this thing?”
A grand jury indicted Cash for Euan’s homicide in March 2012, and police arrested Cash two days later.
The case finally came to trial last week. Euan’s family sat through the entire proceeding.
“Mr. Daniel said it’s a rollercoaster ride, particularly with the opposing testimony from the defense, who seemed to use elements of truth and generally tried to confuse the jury in my mind,” said Euan’s father, referring to Assistant District Attorney Ray Daniel.
“You do go up and down, and when you hear all this, you realize getting 12 people to agree to something is real tough,” said the father. “I was prepared for the worst. I have experience with a jury, and the people who are in those juries, you never know what kind of background they’re from, what kind of prejudices they have, whether they’re willing to really listen and interpret the bigger picture.”
So, how did he feel when he heard the verdict?
“Elated,” he said. “It really did restore my faith in the justice system, although I think it puts those 12 people through the wringer. Trying to get 12 people to agree on anything in this day and age is something.”
He was thankful to the jury, the district attorney’s staff and particularly Assistant District Attorney Chris Williams, the lead prosecutor.
Now they wait again, this time to see what sentence Cash gets. But they feel more at ease now.
Asked where the family goes from here, the father said, “For me,” but then fell silent, trying to maintain his composure.
“We think about him every day,” the father said of Euan. “For me the biggest thing now is, I don’t have to think about Cash, because before it was always ‘Euan, and Cash is out there.’ Now I know where he is.”
Cash is back in the Muscogee County Jail, awaiting his sentencing.
“He can’t do this to someone else,” said Euan’s sister. “It’s important that people like this can’t hurt other people.”
What reminds them of Euan now?
“It’s just, things happen, and you’ll remember what he was like in those circumstances and situations,” said the father.
Said Euan’s mother: “It’s like, what would he say?” She wishes she could tell him about whatever brought his memory to mind.
“You want to tell him,” she said, “but he’s not there.”