Bruce Joseph Nozolino sat through his bond hearing, dressed in an orange jumpsuit and slightly hunched forward at the defense table, listening on an amplifier so he can follow the proceedings.
He was flanked on either side by his public defenders Rose Roy and Carrie Thompson, the chief of the Colorado Springs public defender’s office. They in turn were flanked by two sheriff’s deputies.
At first, prosecutors wanted to rest on the transcript of the grand jury proceedings to make their case that there was enough evidence to warrant continuing to hold him without bond. However, Nozolino’s public defenders wanted to call witnesses arguing that some of the evidence presented to the grand jury was misleading or inaccurate.
Judge William Sylvester allowed them to call the detectives in the case as witnesses, but held off from requiring the alleged victims – Judge Gilbert Martinez and divorce lawyer John Ciccolella – to testify. Ultimately, the defense chose not to call them.
A dirty white truck
Colorado Springs Detective Luke Skifstad was the first witness. He’s the lead investigator in the murder of Richard Shreiner, the Stetson Hill man shot to death while shoveling snow outside his house on Nov. 30, 2008.
Skifstad said police were unable to find a weapon or any shell casings in the shooting. They did recover a bullet later during the autopsy.
A canvass of the neighbors found several people who reporting hearing what sounded like a single backfire or shot sometime between 7:20 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Skifstad said. One neighbor also reported seeing a “dirty white pickup truck” in the area at that time.
Police found a pair of ear plugs about 40 yards from the crime scene. However they were unable to find any DNA on them linking them to Nozolino.
A shot to the head
Colorado Springs Detective Derek Graham testified next. He wrote the affidavit for the search warrant in the investigation.
After the shootings at the homes of the Ciccolella and Martinez homes, detectives tried to get a search warrant for Nozolino’s home. But a judge turned down their request, ruling they didn’t have enough evidence to link Nozolino to the shootings.
Detectives thought they had their first big clue in the case early in the morning after a sniper shot Ciccolella in the eye inside his office.
Around 2:40 a.m., a detective interviewed Nozolino. According to the grand jury testimony, Nozolino said he had heard on the news that Ciccolella had been shot in the eye. Graham said police considered this a break, since they had not release that detail to the news media.
However, Nozolino’s public defenders produced a transcript from that night’s broadcast on KOAA-TV. The transcript stated the lawyer had been shot in the head.
A contentious divorce
In her closing argument at the hearing, Chief Deputy District Attorney Diana K. May raced through a rapid-fire chronology of the four shootings matched against the time line of the divorce.
She talked about how rare sniper shootings are. According to the FBI, there were only 37 sniper shootings in the United States between 2000 to 2008.
She described Nozolino as being “obsessed” about his divorce. How he hired a private investigator. How he tried to get his wife fired and court-martialed for infidelity.
“This is a very contentious divorce.”
On June 8, 2001, she says Judge Martinez ordered Nozolino to pay $10,500 in child support to his wife. Five days later, the judge makes another ruling against Nozolino. On the evening of June 16, 2001, the shooting occurs at the Ciccolella house. One bullet slams into a charcoal grill outside the house.
Nozolino claims he was out of the country at the time, but later that alibi turns out not to be true, May contended.
More to come. Stay tuned.