HUERFANO COUNTY, Colo. — Brian Puerta told police he was bedded down at a truck stop in rural Huerfano County, snuggled up in a sleeping bag in the front passenger seat of his blue Buick when a stranger banged on the passenger window in the middle of the day and demanded that Puerta follow him.
The stranger, whom Puerta later described as looking like Charles Manson, with several dogs in tow, aimed a handgun at Puerta, who reached for his cellphone to call 911. Four shots rang out, blasting through the window and into Puerta’s right wrist, right hip, abdomen and cellphone.
An air ambulance flew Puerta, who was homeless, to Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo that March 30 day. Puerta woke later from anesthesia to find surgical staples embedded across his stomach. The surgeons had removed part of Puerta’s lower intestine, but they recovered one of the bullets that had torn into Puerta, 3 inches below his belly button.
When authorities apprehended a suspect later that day after a high-speed chase, they thought they had a lock on a conviction and lengthy prison sentence. Puerta picked out the suspect from a photo lineup. Police had seized a Sig Sauer .22 caliber handgun from the suspect's car. Prosecutors waited for the ballistics report that would match the bullet found deep in Puerta's gut with the handgun seized from the suspect's car — the final piece of evidence they felt they needed to persuade a jury to convict the suspect of attempted murder.
But that ballistics report would never come. And the suspect John William Wilson, now 40, might never see a day in prison.
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