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Murdered man's widow testifies in Nozolino case

February 12, 2014 Updated: February 13, 2014 at 5:38 am
photo - Bruce Nozolino
Bruce Nozolino 

The woman whose husband was shot to death while shoveling snow outside their Stetson Hills home in November 2008 described to jurors Wednesday her frantic moments after discovering his body.

Sandra Wenzloff found her husband Richard Schreiner lying face down in the snow on a partially shoveled walkway near their home on Amberly Drive, his arms laid out to the side, his eyes open.

On a 911 recording played for jurors, Wenzloff, a nurse, could be heard pleading for help through sobs as she performed CPR.

At the time, she saw only a small amount of blood below her husband's eye and didn't know what was wrong.

"I couldn't wrap my mind around it," she said, tearfully, recalling that she asked herself, "What could have possibly happened?

Did he fall and hit his head?" A cardiac event?"

Schreiner, 46, had finished shoveling his driveway and was apparently clearing snow from a neighborhood footpath next to his house when he was attacked. His family believes he was on his way to shovel snow at his mother's house, who lived within a block or two.

Wenzloff said her husband was an avid runner and generally went on morning runs during the weekend. She went looking for him worried that he might have fallen.

The 911 call was placed shortly after 9 a.m., but two neighbors testified Tuesday that they heard a loud bang sometime between 7 and 8 a.m., though neither saw anything suspicious.

Prosecutors say Schreiner, a father of two who worked at the Air Force Academy, was targeted by alleged sniper shooter Bruce J. Nozolino because of an extramarital affair she had with Nozolino's then-wife nearly a decade earlier. Nozolino is also accused of blinding his ex-wife's divorce lawyer in one eye in 2002 and shooting into the homes of the attorney and a judge in 2001.

Defense attorneys were barred by presiding judge Victor I. Reyes from questioning Wenzloff about a more recent extramarital affair by Schreiner - a ruling that sparked a spirited objection in court.

Defense attorney Tina Tussay said the information could suggest that others had the same motive to kill Schreiner attributed to Nozolino.

Reyes said more information about a possible alternate suspect would be necessary before he allowed it, such as whether that person had the opportunity or issued any threats.

The judge said the defense could later revisit the topic with the same witnesses if they can establish a "nexus" between the affair and any alternate suspects in a written filing.

Reyes twice cleared the courtroom on Wednesday for closed-door hearings, though it wasn't made clear whether the hearings were for the same issue.

Prosecutors also screened video of an hour-long speech by Nozolino at the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition.

In the undated video, shot sometime before the Schreiner slaying and after divorce lawyer John Ciccolella was shot in the eye while working late in his law office in January 2002, Nozolino accuses Ciccolella of exploiting personal ties with Colorado Springs police to make Nozolino a suspect in a massive criminal investigation.

Using a projector to display excerpts from court filings and newspaper accounts, Nozolino portrays himself as the victim of a witch hunt and questions whether the shootings for which he was investigated even occurred.

He notes that the detective then assigned to the case, Terry Bjorndahl, hired Ciccolella to represent him in his divorce in 1985 and alleges the men had a 25-year friendship.

He says police seized $20,000 worth of weapons from him not for a legitimate criminal investigation, but to hold them for Ciccolella so that he could auction them off to collect on judgments against Nozolino. Police also took divorce papers to sabotage him in court, he alleges.

The weapons and the papers were ultimately returned by police.

Nozolino tells the crowd that El Paso County Chief District Judge Gilbert Martinez - whose home was shot into in October 2001 -- conspired to allow his wife and children to leave the state before he had the chance to contest custody in divorce court.

"I'm only a suspect because it was convenient to label me a suspect," he said.

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors also played a radio interview from Chuck Baker's former KVOR radio program in which Nozolino levels similar charges in his own defense.

Testimony is expected to continue at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

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