Published: November 12, 2013
Years after he was named a suspect in shootings that targeted an El Paso County judge and a divorce lawyer, Bruce Nozolino offered to help police - for a price.
"He said, 'Give me 1 to 10 million dollars, and I'll give you everything you want to know,'" Colorado Springs police detective Richard Gysin alleged at a court hearing Tuesday. "He said he would have the case solved in two weeks."
That boast and other off-kilter comments allegedly made by Nozolino at various points in a decade-spanning police investigation will be among the evidence heard by a jury when Nozolino goes to trial on murder charges on Jan. 6. The trial is expected to last two months. Pueblo District Judge Victor I. Reyes ruled the statements admissible after a daylong hearing in Colorado Springs in which police detectives, El Paso County District Attorney's investigators and others described puzzling interactions with Nozolino, who declined to answer questions from police even as he offered help and fished for clues about the probe.
A former Lockheed Martin software engineer, Nozolino was ultimately indicted in July 2010, charged in four shootings authorities tie to his nasty divorce.
He is accused of killing his ex-wife's former lover in 2008 and trying to kill her divorce lawyer, the judge who presided over the divorce and their families in shootings that date to 2001 and 2002.
During the hearing, now-retired detective Terry Bjorndahl said Nozolino offered to cooperate with him after a 2001 shooting into the home of divorce lawyer John Ciccolella, but only if the detective agreed to investigate Nozolino's complaint that Ciccolella tried to frame him with a bogus trespassing compaint to make him look worse in his divorce.
Nozolino withdrew the offer when Bjorndahl responded that he had no authority to cut such a deal, the former investigator told the court.
Ciccolella was later shot in the face while working in his Colorado Springs law office in 2002.
Gysin testified that Nozolino's offer to help "solve" the shootings was made in March 2005, when Nozolino accompanied a friend to the Colorado Springs Police Operations Center on South Nevada Avenue to pick up property that had been seized by police.
Defense attorneys asked that all statements Nozolino made to police be suppressed at trial, arguing that police pressed Nozolino for information after he had asserted his right to remain silent.
Reyes disagreed, ruling Nozolino made the comments voluntarily, at times when he wasn't being questioned and wasn't under arrest.
The judge also denied a series of other defense motions, including a request to move Nozolino's trial elsewhere in Colorado.
The defense argued that coverage of the case has been "massive, pervasive and prejudicial," impacting Nozolino's ability to find an unbiased jury.
Reyes, who is presiding over the case to avoid the appearance of bias by El Paso County judges, ruled that publicity caused few difficulties in finding juries for Nozolino's back-to-back trials in 2012 for witness intimidation and perjury.
Nozolino was convicted on those charges and sentenced to 21 years in prison. If convicted of murder, he faces life in prison without parole.