Landowner and hunter both plead not guilty
November 21, 2022
Jeffrey Erman and Dustin Wolf, two men charged after a videotaped hunting altercation in eastern Eddy County went viral, have both pleaded not guilty to their charges stemming from the incident.
A pretrial conference for Erman has been scheduled for Dec. 28, and another for Wolf is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2023.
On Thursday, Nov. 3, Carrington Police Chief Christopher Bittmann stopped a man for speeding through town on Hwy. 281, and after initiating a routine traffic stop, he soon found much more to be suspicious of.
According to court documents, Bittmann observed a Chevrolet Impala speeding south on Hwy. 281 in Carrington, clocking it at 41 mph in the 25 mph zone. A traffic stop was initiated and the driver of the Impala, Nicholas Ridenour, pulled over at the C and J gas station.
Court documents allege Ridenour quickly admitted to having a suspended driver’s license, but was initially dishonest about who owned the vehicle.
“I asked if the vehicle belonged to him,” wrote Bittmann in his case report. “Nicholas said the vehicle belonged to his aunt Betty.” However, the registration and insurance cards he handed Bittmann allegedly had another man’s name on them.
Bittmann then placed Ridenour in his squad car, where he was read his Miranda rights and where Bittmann states Ridenour could be seen visibly shaking.
Bittmann proceeded to search the Chevy Impala after getting permission to do so, at which point he allegedly found even more registration cards with the other man’s name on them. He then returned to his squad car to speak with Ridenour.
“I told Nicholas I thought he was lying to me and I wanted to know where he got the vehicle from,” wrote Bittmann. “Nicholas told me he stole the vehicle from the bank in Rugby. … Nicholas said he just got released from Rugby jail this morning for stealing a car back in October.”
Earlier this fall, Ridenour had been charged with two counts of theft of property and for driving with a suspended license after a nearly identical situation unfolded. On Oct. 19, he was allegedly caught speeding in Wells County on Highway 52 with a stolen vehicle.
Ridenour later posted bail, and was released from the Heart of America Correctional Center in Rugby on Nov. 3. That same day, he allegedly stole another vehicle from the bank’s parking lot.
“Nicholas said he was trying to get back to his wife and kid,” reads the case report.
In addition to the charges he still faces in Wells County, Ridenour has now been charged in Foster County with theft of property-possession-$1,000-$10,000, a Class C felony, and for driving with a suspended license, a Class A misdemeanor.
Ridenour has pleaded not guilty to the driving under suspension charge, and is awaiting his arraignment on Dec. 13 to make his plea on the felony charge. He is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
Meanwhile, Matthew Braun, who’s accused of burglarizing two businesses in downtown New Rockford, has once again had his preliminary hearing and/or arraignment rescheduled. His next court date is now set for Dec. 15.