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9:01 AM Thu, Oct. 18th

Jury acquits Golden Valley man of attempted murder

Prosecutors unable to link shoe prints to Thomas Oldring

KINGMAN - A jury of 12 peers found a Golden Valley man not guilty of attempted murder Thursday afternoon.

Thomas Oldring, 64, was charged with attempted first-degree murder, drive by shooting, aggravated assault, theft of a means of transportation. He was found not guilty on all counts, Thursday.

Oldring was charged along with Daniel R. Andrews, Sr., in connection with the Jan. 17, 2008, attempted murder and drive-by shooting of a woman near Valle Vista.

Andrews accepted a plea agreement in February and pleaded guilty to attempted drive-by shooting. He was sentenced to 8.75 years in prison with credit for 120 days served in jail.

Oldring's case hinged around a set of shoeprints deputies found in the desert.

The afternoon of Jan. 17, 2008, deputies received a call that a woman driving home from work was shot at by two men in a pickup truck.

She managed to follow the suspects for a while before her own truck broke down.

Deputies found bullet holes in the windshield, hood and driver's side door of the woman's truck.

The woman told deputies she thought the attack might be linked to a report she had filed against a co-worker earlier that year for unsafe driving.

Deputies found the suspect's pickup truck abandoned in the desert with two sets of shoe prints leading away from it.

Mohave County Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Friend, a search and rescue officer and expert tracker, was dispatched to the scene.

Friend testified in court that he was diverted en route to the scene to help another officer with the detention of a possible suspect, Oldring, near Mano Street in Valle Vista.

Friend testified that Oldring was nervous and carrying a gun. He observed that the bottom of Oldring's shoes had a lug sole to them. At that time, the officers let Oldring go.

Friend continued on to where deputies found two sets of tracks in the desert.

Following the tracks, he was able to find and arrest Andrews hiding under a bush. Friend testified that he continued to follow one set of shoe prints in the direction of Valle Vista. He noticed the tracks had a lug sole print similar to Oldring's shoes.

Deputies later arrested Oldring based on the lug sole prints and testimony from a witness that said he saw Oldring walking in the desert near the area where the tracks were found.

Robin Pucheck, Oldring's attorney, argued that there was no evidence connecting Oldring to the shooting incident. He pointed out and Friend agreed that the deputies had not taken any photographs of Oldring's shoes or the tracks in the desert.

Friend testified that a superior officer had told him it was not necessary to get photos of Oldring's shoes when they first detained him, because he was not a suspect. The same officer told Friend that another deputy would take photographs of the tracks in the desert.

"There is a lack of motive and a lack of evidence," Pucheck told the jury in his closing arguments.

It was getting close to 6 p.m., it was getting dark, the deputies wanted to close the case, Oldring's shoes were a close match to the shoe print pattern found in the desert and they went back and arrested him, Pucheck explained.

Deputies didn't even seize Oldring's shoes when they arrested him, Pucheck said. "Because they didn't want to find the boots. They knew they had the wrong guy."

County Attorney Leroy Albright told the jury that Oldring's story of traveling from Golden Valley to Red Lake to shoot rabbits didn't add up.

The tracks deputies found weren't phantom prints, he said.

They were similar enough to the shoes Oldring had on, plus Oldring was seen walking in the same direction as the tracks.

The jury was given the case around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

They returned with a not guilty verdict on all charges at 4 p.m.