The trial was set Monday for a Sonora man accused of setting fire to Tuolumne County Sheriff’s patrol vehicles last year.
Samuel Henry Shockley, of Sonora, was again arraigned via video in Tuolumne County Superior Court following an April 20 preliminary hearing, where a judge ruled there was sufficient evidence to move forward with a trial.
The Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office accuses Shockley of arson with damage exceeding $50,000, six counts of attempted arson and vehicle theft in connection with the suspected torching of several Sheriff’s patrol vehicles Dec. 1 at the Sheriff’s Office parking lot on Seco Street.
At Monday’s hearing, Shockley pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and Presiding Judge Eric L. DuTemple scheduled the four-day trial to begin June 13.
Shockley was arrested April 5 at a residence in Manteca, after a six-month investigation by the Sheriff’s Office with the help of investigators from the District Attorney’s Office and FBI.
The fire was reported behind the Sheriff’s Office patrol annex building about 3 a.m.
It was determined at the scene that a Toyota pickup truck registered to a woman on Hillcrest Drive was fully-engulfed in flames and parked between two burning patrol cars.
Deputies testified at the preliminary hearing that the woman, who was interviewed as firefighters extinguished the blaze at the Sheriff’s Office, said she normally left her truck parked in her driveway with the doors unlocked and keys in the ignition.
A separate investigation the next day involving gas cans and car batteries stolen from behind the processing plant at Indigeny Reserve, an organic apple ranch and cider distillery on Summers Lane, uncovered surveillance footage showing the pickup truck driving up to the apple ranch and a male driver loading the cans and batteries into the truck.
Detectives sent various items found in the plastic box that contained the stolen batteries to the Department of Justice for DNA processing. A match for Shockley came back from DNA collected from battery connectors, detectives testified.
Shockley apparently went to a party at a residence on Banner Drive the night of the alleged arson, and about 11 p.m. told a couple living at the home he was going to a downtown Sonora bar for more drinks, according to testimony from Sheriff’s Detective Gregory Rogers.
Rogers testified that witnesses mentioned Shockley smelled of fuel and cigarettes when he returned to the home between 3:30 and 4 a.m.
A trial readiness conference was also set for June 4 during Monday’s arraignment.
Prosecutors have said Shockley faces more than eight years in prison if convicted on all the charges.