Prosecutors claim the four shootings they have charged Bruce Nozolino with carrying out were “sniper shootings”, a relatively rare thing statistically speaking.
But public defenders representing the 49-year-old anti-tax activist contend that they are not so rare in places like Colorado Springs with a high number of military personnel.
At a hearing Friday they cited two other recent cases involving high-powered weapons, the second-degree murder conviction of Marc Sylvester
and the first-degree murder conviction of Jomar Falu-Vives.
They also raised questions as to whether one of the shootings – the shot fired at the Palmer Lake home of divorce lawyer John Ciccolella – actually was a sniper shooting.
“The evidence they (police) collected at the scene of the first shooting is so minimal that we take issue with the characterization that it is a sniper shooting,” Deputy Public Defender Carrie Thompson told Judge William Sylvester. Later she added, “There is no real evidence that all four of these are sniper shootings.”
Thompson also challenged another prosecution claim, that Nozolino told one investigator – during the execution of a search warrant – to tell him what he was being investigated for so that he could come up with an alibi.
That was “natural language” for anyone in Nozolino’s situation, she argued.
In effect, Thompson said he was saying, “I have to know, so that I can defend against this group of people who have been investigating him over and over again.”
A shoot plan
Attorney John Ciccolella described the night a sniper shot him in the eye while urging Sylvester to set the highest bond possible on Nozolino.
At the time of the shooting, Ciccolella represented Nozolino’s ex-wife in a particularly nasty divorce.
“I felt a shot going through my body that was so strong that I knew I was dying and that I had only seconds of consciousness before I died” he said.
His wife Pam Ciccolella credited her son Chad – who was working with his father in his downtown law office – with saving his father’s life by stopping the bleeding.
“He initially thought that John’s head had been blown off,” she told the judge.
John Ciccolella told Sylvester how he obtained a weapons permit after the shootings and slept at night with a 9mm handgun and body armor nearby.
He talked about how schools and other families work out an evacuation plan in case of fire.
“We had a shoot plan,” he said. “When the bullets start flying, where do you go? Who do you defend?”
“We practiced that and changed it as the boys grew older,” he added.
“I understand the court’s ruling,” he later added. “I understand that you have to follow the law.”
“But we will not be safe,” he said.
Ciccolella said Nozolino showed during the bitter divorce proceedings that he would not follow court orders.
“He makes his own rules and interpretations,” the lawyer added.
As an example, he said Nozolino was ordered at one point to turn over a blender to his ex-wife.
“He gives her the blender, but not the top,” Ciccolella said. “It’s not a blender without a top.”
When Ciccolella finished, Sylvester told him, “There’s no way I can understand what you and your family have gone through. I don’t think anyone can comprehend it.”
Perjury charges still sealed
On Friday, prosecutors added two felony counts of perjury against Nozolino.
However, the details of those two charges are still unknown. The court clerk’s office said Monday the affidavit remains sealed from public view even though they were released to Nozolino and his public defenders.
During Friday’s hearing, there was some discussion that Nozolino would need a separate attorney for the new charges, owing to the fact that Deputy Public Defender Carrie Thompson might be a witness in the case.
Stay tuned. All of the cases have been continued until a further hearing on March 18.