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Nozolino trial loses another juror, Colrado Springs councilwoman testifies

By Lance Benzel Updated: February 26, 2014 at 9:45 am

The jury in the case involving sniper-suspect Bruce J. Nozolino has lost another member - this time due to illness.

Presiding Judge Victor I. Reyes on Tuesday released a male panelist, saying he didn't want to create further delays in testimony or risk the health of others on the jury. The judge adjourned court early on Monday to accommodate the ailing juror.

Reyes released a different juror for sleeping on the job two weeks earlier, leaving just one alternate available to step in should further problems arise. Evidence is expected to wrap up this week, with closing arguments expected Monday afternoon.

The juror's departure came on a day of wide-ranging testimony in which Nozolino's attorneys fought to shift the narrative as his trial nears its conclusion.

Among those called to the stand was Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Helen Patrice Collins, who described Nozolino as a "friend."

"He's very friendly. He's just a good guy," Collins volunteered as she testified about a June 30, 2010, episode in which Nozolino's friends and political allies assembled outside the Terry R. Harris Judicial Complex as a grand jury met after-hours to review evidence against him.

The jury previously heard from a Colorado Springs police SWAT officer who said he saw Nozolino conceal himself behind a tree for 20 minutes that evening while surreptitiously photographing members of the District Attorney's Office as they left the courthouse.

Collins said she saw Nozolino and his girlfriend, local veterinarian Gretchen Kasameyer, standing on the east side of Tejon Street, across from the courthouse, but didn't see him hiding. Collins testified that she was there with a camera at the request of conservative activist Douglas Bruce, who she said wanted evidence that he was honoring a subpoena to testify at the proceedings.

Collins said she stood across the street and snapped a single photo of Bruce with the courthouse in the background.

"You didn't have to hide behind a tree to take that photograph did you?" prosecutor Deborah Pearson asked her.

Kasameyer testified that Bruce, a personal friend of Nozolino, "was a little worried that, in his words, police might rough him up."

Nozolino's attorney, Tina Tussay, elicited testimony from Kasameyer about Nozolino's involvement in conservative political causes - suggesting his canvassing efforts explained why he had lists in his home containing the names and home addresses of Colorado Springs police officers, the police chief, the mayor and members of City Council.

Nozolino's father, John Nozolino of Nags Head, N.C., recounted how his son had a friend deliver two of Nozolino's firearms to him, including a carbine rifle, in January 2009.

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors spent hours detailing how Nozolino circulated his guns among associates while police were working to track them down, and the gun delivery to the elder Nozolino drew a particular focus because it came weeks after the Nov. 30, 2008. slaying of Richard Schreiner, the former lover of Nozolino's ex-wife.

John Nozolino testified that he wanted to buy a weapon for home defense, and that his son offered to loan him the guns instead.

Asked why he refused to allow a police detective visiting from Colorado Springs to examine his weapons, John Nozolino said: "I was concerned about whether I was going to get them back and what condition they would be in when I got them back."

Jurors have heard previous testimony about Nozolino's anger over damage done to his guns while in police custody at various points in the decade-spanning investigation.

A defense handwriting expert, Kathy Carlson, testified it wasn't possible to determine if Nozolino was the person who sent a threatening letter addressed to employees of a wounded divorce lawyer, rebutting evidence by a prosecution expert who said it was "probable" the note was written by Nozolino.

The defense also called a neighbor of the divorce lawyer, John Ciccolella, who testified that he didn't hear any gunshots the night prosecutors say a shot was fired into Ciccolella's Palmer Lake home in June 2001. The defense has suggested a slingshot could have been used rather than a gun.

The trial is expected to continue at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, after a daylong break in the proceedings.

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