A Rapid City man accused of trying to kill the doctor that treated his late wife pleaded not guilty Thursday to attempted first-degree murder and criminal solicitation.
William Thoman, 62, allegedly tried to obtain a gun to kill the doctor, who works at Rapid City Regional Hospital. According to police reports, he believes the doctor didn't properly treat his wife. Thoman's wife recently died of cancer.
During the arraignment in state court, defense lawyer Matthew Laidlaw asked Judge Jane Wipf Pfeifle to lower his client's bond from $500,000 to $50,000 so he could afford to post it and be released with electronic monitoring and any other conditions.
Laidlaw said Thoman has "no criminal history whatsoever" and his bond assessment recommended he be released on a personal recognizance bond. He also pointed to his motion to dismiss Thoman's criminal solicitation charge.
"I think they allege a legal impossibility," Laidlaw said.
He also said the attempted first-degree murder count is "mischarged." Such a charge, he said, requires someone taking a substantial step toward committing a murder, not just planning it. Case law says the charge is only appropriate when a murder would have occurred "but for a fortuitous event," he said.
But a prosecutor from the Pennington County State's Attorney's Office argued that trying to obtain a gun to kill someone is a substantial step toward a murder. The charges, he said, are "extremely serious" and the doctor took the threat seriously.
Wipf Pfeifle declined to change the bond and said she would rule on Laidlaw's motion to dismiss at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 6.
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Police learned of the alleged threat against the doctor on Sept. 24 when a man contacted them to say Thoman had asked for a gun and said he wanted to be "up close and personal" with the doctor, police reports say.
The man agreed to conduct a recorded phone call with Thoman. When asked about if he was planning on killing the doctor, the reports says, Thoman responded: "If I can help that process along, I will."
During the call, Thoman talked about how the doors to the cancer center were wide enough to drive his car through, and the speed he would need to go, the reports say. But he said he hadn't acted on that plan due to the chance that he could hurt other people.
Thoman said that he asked another man about getting a gun and hiring a person to make someone "go away," the reports says. The second witness told police that Thoman's comments made him think that he knows a person who would harm someone.
When the doctor was contacted by police, the reports say, he told them that Thoman had previously threatened to drive his vehicle through his office.
After police arrested Thoman on Sept. 24, the reports say, officers searched his home and found ammunition and 10 firearms, including a BB gun and two .22 caliber Winchester rifles.
If found guilty of attempted first-degree murder, a class A felony, Thoman would face a maximum of 25 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000, according to court records. The criminal solicitation charge carries a sentence of up to 50 years in prison and a maximum $50,000 fine.