Crime

Columbus family waited years for justice after son’s murder. Now his killer is appealing.

Back in January 2017, the grieving family of slain Columbus man Euan Dougal thought they were done with convicted killer Dundell Cash, who for years had escaped justice in a 2006 fatal shooting outside a strip club where Dougal’s then-girlfriend was a dancer.

They were wrong: Cash’s murder conviction is back in play as he appeals Tuesday to the Georgia Supreme Court, arguing he was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial.

The court will hear arguments during its 10 a.m. session, which will be live-streamed online from Atlanta. Anyone interested can watch the proceedings at www.gasupreme.us.

Justice delayed

Cash became an immediate suspect in Dougal’s shooting after witnesses told police they saw the two standing together right before gunfire erupted around 3 a.m. Nov. 10, 2006, outside what was then the Platinum Club at 2525 Manchester Expressway, where Dougal was shot three times in the torso.

Police got warrants for Cash’s arrest, but claimed they could not locate him for two years, though he was on probation for previous offenses. Finally on Nov. 2, 2008, authorities in South Carolina arrested him on the outstanding warrants, and he was jailed in Columbus, awaiting trial.

But in the two years Cash was on the loose, investigators lost track of a crucial witness: the only one who told them he saw Cash shoot Dougal. That was Dennis Archer, a homeless man the club paid to clean up the parking lot.

Without Archer to testify, a Muscogee County grand jury in April 2009 refused to indict Cash, who then was released after six months in jail.

Then the case took another turn in March 2015, when authorities found Archer and again took the evidence to a grand jury that indicted Cash for murder. He was arrested again March 12, 2015.

Cash’s defense attorney the following Oct. 1 moved to dismiss the indictment as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guarantee to a speedy trial. That motion was denied in Muscogee Superior Court in April 2016, and denied on pretrial appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court the following June.

When Cash went to trial in January 2017, the witness once considered so critical proved not to be so helpful to the prosecution: Archer took the stand and denied having seen Cash shoot Dougal, and denied that he afterward picked Cash’s picture from a photo lineup, though that lineup bore Archer’s initials as evidence of his identifying Cash in 2006.

A detective afterward testified to the information Archer initially gave investigators, contradicting his denials, and the jury apparently was satisfied with that, as it convicted Cash of murder Jan. 30, 2017. Judge Gil McBride sentenced Cash, then 49, to life with possible parole, because life without parole was not an option under Georgia law in 2006, when the crime occurred.

Dougal’s family

Having waited years for Cash to go trial, Dougal’s family was relieved, believing they’d finally be able to move on, without worrying Cash would escape the law.

Dougal, 25, was a native Scot whose family moved to the United States when he was 6 years old. In 2006, he worked at Bi-City Heating & Cooling, dearly loved the dancer he was dating, and had “one of the happiest periods of his life,” said father George Dougal.

“We think about him every day,” the father said of Euan, after the verdict. “For me the biggest thing now is, I don’t have to think about Cash, because before it was always … ‘Cash is out there.’ Now I know where he is.”

Cash currently is in the Rogers State Prison in Reidsville, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. He’s 53.

He’s to be represented at the Supreme Court by attorney Manubir Arora, who argues that the delays in bringing Cash’s case to trial were the prosecution’s fault, not the defendant’s, and that Cash’s defense suffered as a result. He’s asking the court to send the case back to Muscogee County with orders to dismiss Cash’s indictment.

Tim Chitwood is from Seale, Ala., and started as a police beat reporter with the Ledger-Enquirer in 1982. He since has covered Columbus’ serial killings and other homicides, following some from the scene of the crime to trial verdicts and ensuing appeals. He also has been a Ledger-Enquirer humor columnist since 1987. He’s a graduate of Auburn University, and started out working for the weekly Phenix Citizen in Phenix City, Ala.
  Comments