Paul Shockley
Grand Junction, CO, Colorado

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December 2, 2007
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Pruitt claims Lincoln was lone shooter

A man charged with attempted murder in the shooting of James Finnegan suggested Friday he was in the wrong place at the wrong time Nov. 23, 2005.

"I was just standing there wondering " why am I here?" Charles Pruitt said Friday.

Pruitt, 41, testified in District Judge Thomas Deister's courtroom shackled in a brown jail jump suit.

It was the second day of testimony in the attempted murder trial of Sam Lincoln, 26. The trial is scheduled to go through Dec. 12.

Pruitt's trial is scheduled to start Dec. 17.

Under questioning by prosecutors and Lincoln attorney Kathy Goudy, Pruitt insisted he's received no guarantees from the district attorney's office in exchange for his testimony against Lincoln.

"Do you plan on going to trial?" Goudy asked during cross-examination.

"I don't know," Pruitt replied.

Pruitt denied shooting Finnegan on Nov. 23, 2005. Pruitt and Lincoln are both accused of luring Finnegan to the desert north of 25 Road in Grand Junction and shooting him five times.

Finnegan survived.

Pruitt, however, testified there was no plan that morning.

"I just stood there in shock not believing this was happening," he said after Lincoln opened fire.

Finnegan immediately after the shooting identified his shooters as "Charlie Pruitt" and "Sam."

On Thursday, Finnegan testified Lincoln pointed a handgun at his head only feet away " Pruitt stood to the side holding an AR-15 assault rifle, pointed at Finnegan.

Finnegan said he couldn't be sure who shot, but remembered Pruitt holding the rifle and saying, "Don't you know this is what we do?"

Lincoln allegedly confronted Finnegan over allegations he'd "snitched" to police and helped them arrest then-21-year-old murder suspect Chris Wieberg.

Pruitt testified he and Lincoln took turns firing rounds from the AR-15 into a nearby sand dune.

"Sam shot him and started unloading his (handgun) clip," Pruitt testified.

Pruitt testified Lincoln grabbed the AR-15 from him, "put in another clip" and continued firing at Finnegan " now at the bottom of a ravine trying to run away.

The pair returned to the car, where Lincoln "off loads" another clip from the rifle at Finnegan, Pruitt testified.

Pruitt estimated each clip for the AR-15 held about 30 rounds.

A sheriff's investigator Thursday testified he recovered 34 shell casings from the scene " 28 of those were rifle rounds, six were from a handgun.

While driving away, Pruitt testified Lincoln said, "I didn't know what I was going to do until I did it."

"I never thought Sam would shoot," Pruitt said.

Under cross-examination, Pruitt also testified he met with undercover officers at a liquor store in October 2005. Pruitt testified he told officers where Chris Wieberg was hiding.

Wieberg, wanted in connection with a drug-related murder at the time, was arrested shortly after the meeting between Pruitt and law enforcement.

"You were hoping for a deal for your girlfriend who was in jail," Goudy asked.

"Yes," Pruitt replied.

Pruitt testified he and Lincoln spoke once after the Finnegan shooting in a brief encounter at the Mesa County Jail.

He said a teary-eyed Lincoln apologized for Finnegan's shooting, promising, "I'm going to make this right."

The two made brief eye contact as Pruitt was escorted back to the jail mid-morning Friday in the middle of Pruitt's testimony.

Reach Paul Shockley at pshockley@gjfreepress.com


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The Post Independent Updated Dec 2, 2007 05:02PM Published Dec 2, 2007 05:02PM Copyright 2007 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.