Jill BallingerMARIPOSA GAZETTE
The five men who robbed the California State Mining and Mineral Museum last September had one goal in mind: to get the Fricot nugget.
That information came out during the preliminary hearing of Jonathan Matis, which has just concluded for the day. Michael Gomes and Matthew Campbell, who have already entered pleas in the case, testified for the prosecution.
Gomes said the group had conspired in Rio Linda. Edward Rushing was the leader, "the man giving all the orders." They came to Mariposa for one reason: "to get the gold."
Gomes testified that they had come to Mariposa on Sept. 23, and entered the museum, but got cold feet and left because there were too many people there.
When they returned on Sept. 28, 2012, Rushing and Gomes were the ones in the vault. Gomes testified that Rushing used a pick-axe to try to break open the case of the Fricot nugget. When he couldn't, they smashed other cases, leaving a trail of gold as the men tried to escape the museum.
When the vault doors began to close and the alarm sounded, it was Gomes who rammed his head into the door until it opened and confronted museum employees. He said he never threatened them, just asked them "real politely" to move. He was armed with a can of mace.
The preliminary hearing continues on Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. in Mariposa County Superior Court. For the complete story, see the May 2 edition of the Mariposa Gazette.