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Colorado Springs jury has reached verdict in Nozolino sniper-shootings case

Published: March 7, 2014, 10:07 am, by Dalton Walker

By Lance Benzel/The Gazette

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Jurors have reached a verdict Friday morning in the revenge-shooting case against Bruce J. Nozolino, a former Colorado Springs defense contractor accused in a 2008 murder and three earlier attacks allegedly motivated by a bitter divorce.

The decision — which comes after about three days of deliberation following a two-month trial —is expected to be announced once attorneys, victims and the defendant have assembled in the courtroom of presiding Judge Victor I. Reyes.

Nozolino, 52, is a former Lockheed Martin software engineer who was the Colorado Springs Police Department’s chief suspect from the time of the earliest attack until a grand jury secretly voted to indict him in June 2010.

The 31-count indictment alleged that Nozolino killed his ex-wife’s lover in November 2008, partially blinded her former defense attorney in 2002 and fired shots into the homes of the attorney and a judge in 2001.

During a slow-moving trial that officially began Jan. 6, defense attorneys sought to portray their client as an innocent man who became increasingly embittered as Colorado Springs police detectives pursued him with multiple rounds of weapons seizures, repeated searches of his home, phone taps, a GPS bug on his pickup and other invasive measures.

Authorities say those steps were necessary to bypass Nozolino’s careful planning and meddling in the investigation.

They allege he cleaned up after his crimes scenes, disposed of gun parts to defeat firearms testing and patiently stalked his victims, waiting for a window to strike.

Prosecutors elicited testimony that Nozolino hid guns with friends, borrowed vehicles to avoid police surveillance, and resorted to threats and intimidation against the judges, lawyers and witnesses drawn into the case against him.

Before his arrest, Nozolino was an unusually vocal suspect, taking to radio programs and firearms advocacy meetings to protest his innocence and to press the case he was being unfairly targeted by attorney and two-time shooting victim John Ciccolella, whom he alleged had improper ties to the investigators leading the charge against him.

Even as police continued to investigate him, Nozolino campaigned for conservative causes and garnered personal support from some of El Paso County’s most prominent residents.

Douglas Bruce — the former state senator, Taxpayer Bill of Rights author and convicted tax cheat — joined City Councilwoman Helen Patrice Collins on the list of politically connected people who pledged their support for Nozolino throughout his trial.

John Anderson, the former two-time El Paso County sheriff, acknowledged on the witness stand that he befriended Nozolino when the two worked together at defense contractor Lockheed Martin office from 2005-2008.

What Anderson called a “friendship” fizzled around 2008 — but not before Anderson supplied Nozolino with information about a potential alternate suspect that became central to Nozolino’s defense.

With Nozolino’s 2010 arrest came a slow-moving prosecution riven by courtroom battles over claims of institutional bias by El Paso County judges and court personnel, including Chief District Judge Gilbert Martinez, who is among the victims.

After the grand jury indictment, members of the El Paso County bench were barred by a different chief judge from being involved in the case.

Presiding Judge Reyes was brought in from Pueblo to avoid the appearance of impropriety.