Stupid Criminal Update: the hitchhiker, the kindness project, and the shooting that wasn’t

handcuffsI wrote last year about the hitchhiker who claimed to have been shot while traveling the country and working on a book about kindness. Turned out Ray Dolin shot himself, either in a suicide attempt — his initial claim — or as a publicity stunt for his kindness project. Another man was arrested and briefly jailed — he happened to drive the same kind of truck Dolin described, but GPS data showed he hadn’t been in the area when the shooting occurred. Dolin was charged with a felony count of tampering with evidence and two misdemeanor charges, and pled guilty.

The AP reports he’s now received a four-year deferred sentence on the felony, which includes numerous conditions, and a six-month suspended sentence on the misdemeanors. He must continue mental health treatment, and was also ordered to pay more than $2,000 in fines and $5,583 restitution. Readers of Books, Crooks & Counselors know that a deferred sentence means the judge reserves authority to impose sentence later; at the end of the deferral period, if the offender has met all conditions, charges will be dismissed. This is not a typical case for deferral — a gun was involved, and an innocent man was caught up in the lies. No doubt Dolin’s apology, his cooperative behavior, and his apparent compliance with mental health treatment were factors in his favor.