BILLINGS, Mont. — A Washington state man was released from custody Thursday after spending 13 days in jail following his arrest in a Montana hitchhiker shooting that turned out to be a hoax.
Lloyd Christopher Danielson III was released after pleading guilty to driving under the influence.
He was sentenced to 24 hours in jail and a $650 fine, Poplar City Judge Traci Harada said. But Harada gave Danielson credit for time served and $50 toward each day he spent in jail, canceling out the fine and allowing him to walk free.
The 52-year-old was arrested June 9 after a wounded hitchhiker — 39-year-old Ray Dolin of Julian, W.Va. — waved down a passing motorist and claimed he’d been shot along U.S. 2 west of Glasgow.
Dolin was wounded in the arm and told authorities he had been traveling to collect material for a planned photographic memoir about kindness. He said the roadside attack came without provocation by a man driving a maroon pickup.
But authorities say Dolin later admitted he shot himself, apparently in a scheme to get publicity for his planned memoir. The confession came after authorities searched a field near the site of the shooting and found a small pistol Dolin had bought in early June.
Danielson was cleared in the shooting last week but remained held on the DUI charge after he did not post bail.
In a telephone interview, Harada said Danielson’s sentence was appropriate based on the particulars of the case.
“Given the circumstances that poor person went through, maybe that did have a bearing in the back of my mind,” she said of Danielson. “I felt it was the fairest thing to happen.”
Danielson was initially charged with felony assault with a weapon after he was stopped late June 9 near Culbertson, Mont., about 100 miles away from where Dolin was found.
Roosevelt County Sheriff Freedom Crawford said the arrest was based on Dolin’s description of the pickup.
Dolin’s precise whereabouts are unknown, and he has not been arrested. Valley County officials said they believe he remains in the care of a Veterans Affairs hospital in Montana or Wyoming.
Valley County Attorney Nicholas Murnion said charges against Dolin are pending. He faces potential charges including tampering with evidence, obstructing a police officer, and providing false information to law enforcement, Murnion said.