Hoax shooting suspect appears in Montana court

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By MATT VOLZ, Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A West Virginia man accused of shooting himself and then claiming to be a drive-by victim was arrested in northeastern Montana on Thursday and quickly released on a $10,000 bond.

Ray Dolin, 39, appeared at the Glasgow courthouse at 10 a.m. as the Valley County prosecutor had arranged with Dolin's attorney, Jeffrey Simkovic. Dolin had previously been under the care of Veterans Affairs in Montana and Wyoming as the attorneys negotiated his return to the county.

Prosecutors say Dolin, of Julian, W.Va., has acknowledged fabricating his story about a pickup truck driver shooting him without provocation June 9 as he hitchhiked along U.S. Highway 2 west of Glasgow.

Court documents say Dolin told authorities that the shooting was a failed attempted suicide. Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier has said he believes the photographer shot himself as a publicity stunt for a book he was putting together on the kindness of strangers.

A person who answered the phone at Simkovic's Billings office said the attorney was away and his office would have no comment on the case.

After arriving at the courthouse, Dolin was served with an arrest warrant, fingerprinted, photographed and made a brief appearance in Justice Court.

Dolin signed an extradition waiver, told the justice of the peace that he understood his rights, then walked out with his attorney after posting bond, said Trevor Carlson, a law school intern assisting County Attorney Nickolas Murnion.

The case has been transferred to state district court, where an Aug. 8 hearing has been scheduled.

Dolin's release came with no travel restrictions, but Meier and Carlson said officials have no concerns that Dolin won't show up for future appearances.

"He showed up today, he's very remorseful," Meier said. "I think he's going to come here and clear things up and get on with life."

The evidence tampering charge, the most serious one against Dolin, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine if convicted.

Dolin originally told police that he had stopped to eat on the side of U.S. Highway 2 outside Glasgow on June 9 when a pickup truck pulled up beside him, the driver shot him and drove off.

Investigators arrested a Washington state man driving a truck that matched the description provided by Dolin, but then let him ago after concluding the man was not in the area at the time of the shooting.

After his story unraveled, Dolin told an FBI agent that he had come to Montana to shoot himself and that he picked that spot near a historical marker because it was a beautiful location, according to charging documents.

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