Hitchhiker Expected Back On Thursday
Justice Court Awaits Photographer Who Changed Story About Being Shot
By Jim Orr, Courier Publisher
Published: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
It appears that hitchhiking photographer Ray Dolin, whose tale went international about being shot outside Glasgow while gathering content for a book on the kindness of Americans, will be returning. Valley County officials on Tuesday told The Courier that they expect him to appear in Justice Court on Thursday.
County Attorney Nicholas Murnion said Dolin, who faces three charges, will be making an initial appearance in the court before Judge Linda Hartsock and be advised of his rights. Murnion said if Dolin posts bail, which has been set at $10,000, he will be able to sign a waiver of extradition that would allow him to leave the area between court appearances.
Murnion said he would allow Dolin, 39, of Julian, W. Va., “to go elsewhere” because he has been “very, very cooperative” and retained a lawyer.
Sheriff Glen Meier said Hartsock also will remand the case to District Court due to a felony charge against Dolin, but that will happen no sooner than early August due to that court's case schedule. It is there where Dolin will face his formal arraignment.
As big a media stir that the story initially sparked, Meier concurred that Dolin has been cooperative and said he predicts that the troubled first-time offender's criminal record eventually could be “wiped clean” with good behavior. He said Dolin is “coming back voluntarily” to Glasgow after reportedly receiving care in a Wyoming hospital.
“This guy is not an Al Capone type,” Meier said. “He just did something stupid … I often feel sorry for the guy, that his life led him to devise such a scheme.”
Dolin, who concocted a story that led to the arrest of a pickup-driving suspect once thought to fit his fictitious description, has a bullet wound and three criminal charges against him to show for his misjudgment. Murnion last week charged Dolin with tampering or fabricating physical evidence, a felony, and two misdemeanors: false reports to law enforcement authorities and obstructing a police officer.
The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a $50,000 fine if convicted, but Meier said he anticipates a plea agreement could be negotiated that would reduce the penalty substantially. Meier predicted that Dolin's ultimate penalty could be a deferred sentence and $4,500 restitution for overtime that officers put in during the investigation.
“I doubt if it ever goes to trial,” Meier said.
Dolin originally said he was a victim of a drive-by shooting June 9 while next to the “Buffalo Country” historic market along U.S. Highway 2 a few miles west of Glasgow. Eventually, authorities said he told them that he came to Montana to shoot himself because he and his photography business, One Shot Impressions, were struggling. The shooting, he stated, was a failed suicide.
Investigators later found a pistol registered to Dolin 68 feet from the crime scene. Authorities said he bought the pistol June 4, took a bus to Sidney and then began hitchhiking westward.
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