A Sonora man accused of setting fire to several Tuolumne County Sheriff’s patrol vehicles late last year will be in court next week for a hearing to determine a new date for his trial.
A jury trial was to begin today for Samuel Henry Shockley, 32, in Tuolumne County Superior Court, but was vacated while his defense attorneys wait for the return of information pertaining to the DNA evidence found at the scene of a separate crime supposedly linking him to the alleged arson.
The trial date was vacated at a readiness conference on Monday.
Deputy Public Defender Carolyn Woodall said she is waiting for a disc from the Department of Justice containing raw data and notes taken during the analysis of the collected evidence.
“I need to double check the results to see if they’re right or if there’s anything that needs to be challenged in court,” she said.
Woodall said an independent expert will review the information.
Shockley is accused of dousing a dozen cars with gasoline — including Sheriff’s patrol vehicles and a 1993 Toyota pickup stolen from downtown Sonora earlier that night — in the Sheriff’s Office parking lot on Seco Street and setting them on fire during the early morning Dec. 1.
Sheriff’s detectives testified at a preliminary hearing in April that surveillance video obtained from Indigeny Reserve, an organic apple ranch and cider distillery on Summers Lane in Sonora, showed the stolen pickup pull up to the back of the ranch’s processing plant, where the male driver then loaded several full gas cans and two car batteries into the truck’s bed.
The same truck was spotted on surveillance cameras driving near the Tuolumne County Courthouse on Yaney Avenue and the Sheriff’s Office main building on Lower Sunset, toward the parking lot where the fire was later started.
The two car batteries were also found in the bed of the charred pickup after the fire was extinguished. Items including bolts, washers and alligator clips were gathered from the container where the batteries were stored at Indigeny Reserve and sent to a DOJ crime lab in Ripon for processing.
The Sheriff’s Office says a DNA match came back for Shockley, and he was arrested at a Manteca residence on April 5. He has remained in custody at Tuolumne County Jail on $500,000 bail.
Shockley is due in court June 18 to set a new date for a jury trial on charges of arson, attempted arson and auto theft.