Jail informant says Nozolino confessed to Colorado Springs killings

By Lance Benzel Updated: February 7, 2014 at 10:39 am • Published: February 6, 2014 | 8:45 pm

A jailhouse informant testified Thursday that sniper suspect Bruce J. Nozolino confessed he was guilty of a homicide and three other shootings allegedly related to his contentious divorce and bragged that "no evidence" would be found.

"Yeah, I fricken did it," former El Paso County jail inmate Joseph Christopher Durham said Nozolino told him, testifying that the embattled former defense contractor gloated about his careful planning and sounded "smug" in declaring he would get away with it.

"They'll never find anything because I already took care of everything," Durham said he was told.

Nozolino, 52, a former Lockheed Martin software engineer, is in the 4th week of a trial focusing on what prosecutors characterize as a decade-spanning series of revenge shootings. He is accused of killing his ex-wife's lover in November 2008, wounding her divorce lawyer in the eye in 2002, and taking shots into the homes of the lawyer and a judge in 2001.

Defense attorneys have played up the lack of physical evidence in the case, and on Thursday, they scrambled to discredit Durham - describing him as a "snitch" and emphasizing his criminal history, which includes convictions for child sex assault, aggravated robbery, and an escape attempt.

During cross-examination, attorney Tina Tussay repeatedly pointed out that Durham's offer to give up information in the case came with a demand that he be offered a "deal."

Prosecutors elicited testimony that Durham didn't receive a break.

Although he was testifying under subpoena, no deal is on the table, Durham said.

Durham, 36, is now incarcerated in Florida, where he is awaiting a trial on new charges of child sex assault and obstruction of justice.

He told jurors that he met Nozolino in jail after the defendant's June 2010 grand jury indictment and befriended the target shooter and gun collector over talk of rare rifles and hunting.

During their daily walks together, he said Nozolino began confiding to him details of his case and gradually opened up about his seething anger toward people involved in his divorce and his avowed desire to get even with them.

Attorney Tina Tussay worked to point out holes in the man's account, such as his claim that a judge was killed and that "multiple" people were slain.

But some of Durham's disclosures - which he originally reported to police in spring 2011 -- tracked closely with evidence introduced publicly for the first time at Nozolino's trial.

One day while they were in lockup together, Nozolino appeared "dejected," and when Durham asked why, Nozolino told him that a friend had been interviewed by police and changed a timeline of when he saw Nozolino after shooting into a downtown office from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

"The cops got to my alibi and made him change his story," Durham said Nozolino told him.

The shooting into John Ciccolella's office occurred about 6 p.m. on Jan. 23, 2002, and one of his former confidants, Curtis Gene Womack, has offered varying accounts of when he first saw Nozolino in a church parking lot on the north side, spanning 6 p.m. to 6:30.

The parking lot is nine miles from the scene of the Ciccolella shooting - making the timing of Nozolino's arrival a key consideration for jurors.

The testimony took a brief detour into Colorado Springs political intrigue when Durham invoked a claim involving Douglas Bruce, a controversial anti-tax activist and personal friend of Nozolino.

Durham charged that Nozolino bragged that he and a "friend" set up phony nonprofit organizations in a scheme to avoid paying taxes on their earnings.

Although prosecutors say Durham previously identified the friend as Douglas Bruce, presiding judge Victor I. Reyes barred him from identifying Bruce in front of the jury.

Bruce, a former state legislator, El Paso County County Commissioner and author of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), was convicted in December 2011 of tax evasion and other crimes related to what prosecutors portrayed as a phony nonprofit called Active Citizens Together. Bruce was sentenced to 180 days jail and six years on probation for his crimes.

Reyes said he allowed the testimony to balance what he called a suggestion by the defense that Durham had invented details of Nozolino's alleged jailhouse confession.

Testimony is expected to continue at 9 a.m. Friday.

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