Marble Hill man facing attempted murder charge

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

A Marble Hill, Mo., man is accused of planning to gun down a supposed romantic rival within sight of the Jackson police station.

Jackson police say Timothy Dale Lincoln, 30, of 1877 County Road 371, intended to shoot Gary Eldridge of Jackson at the Rhodes 101 service station on Sunday because he suspected the man of having an affair with his live-in girlfriend. Lincoln is charged with attempted murder.

But Eldridge said Monday he never dated Lincoln's girlfriend and knew her only as a co-worker at a Cape Girardeau business he declined to name.

"I don't even know why he was mad at me," said Eldridge, who said his only acquaintance with the girlfriend outside of work was when they went gambling at Casino Aztar in Caruthersville, Mo., in March. Eldridge said another female co-worker also was supposed to go on the gambling trip but dropped out at the last minute.

Prosecutors say Lincoln telephoned Eldridge and left a message on his answering machine asking Eldridge to meet him at the service station in Jackson at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Eldridge didn't show up, but the police did and arrested Lincoln.

Two other charges

He was being held Monday in the Cape Girardeau County Jail on $300,000 bond. In addition to attempted murder, he is charged with possession of a firearm while intoxicated and driving while intoxicated.

Lincoln registered a blood-alcohol content of .171 percent when he was arrested, more than twice the legal limit, according to the probable-cause statement.

Lincoln was arraigned by video from the county jail Monday. Associate Circuit Judge Gary Kamp appointed a public defender to represent Lincoln and scheduled a preliminary hearing for 4 p.m. Sept. 3 at the county courthouse in Jackson.

Jackson police arrested Lincoln as he sat in his pickup truck on the parking lot of the Ceramo factory across a side street from the service station near the busy Highway 34/25 intersection. The police station sits on the northwest corner of that intersection.

Police chief James Humphreys said police officers Darrell Sievers and Paul Kembel responded to the scene just before 5 p.m. after an employee at Ceramo reported seeing Lincoln aiming the rifle out the driver's window of the pickup truck.

"A catastrophe was avoided here," Humphreys said. "You just don't know what could have happened if a citizen didn't do his duty and report suspicious activity."

Sievers said the rifle wasn't loaded but officers found a clip with three live rounds in the driver's side door pouch.

Lincoln earlier in the day had threatened "to shoot someone," Sievers wrote in a probable-cause statement.

'Would have hit his mark'

Humphreys said Lincoln had drawn a crude silhouette of a human head and fired several shots at the target at his home earlier Sunday.

"By the looks of his target, he would have hit his mark right on," he said.

At the time of his arrest, Lincoln was 50 to 60 yards from the service station, Humphreys said. His Marlin .22-caliber Magnum rifle was equipped with a high-powered scope, and he had a pair of binoculars.

Eldridge said he didn't get Lincoln's message until after he was contacted by police. "I didn't know if it was a joke or if it was real," he said when he learned from his parents that police wanted to talk to him.

Eldridge said Lincoln's voice on the answering machine didn't sound angry or threatening.

"I don't know why this gentleman would even think we were going out," Eldridge said. He said the girlfriend seemed "pretty well devoted" to Lincoln.

"I hope they find out what was going through his head and get him some help," Eldridge said.

If convicted, Lincoln could be sentenced to five to 15 years in prison on the attempted murder charge.

The two misdemeanor charges each carry a range of punishment from one day to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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