Published: February 15, 2014
Even as a grand jury secretly met to review evidence against him, police were tracking sniper suspect Bruce J. Nozolino via a GPS bug on his pickup and listening in on his phone calls.
In testifying about those measures Friday, Colorado Springs police Lt. Jeff Jensen provided jurors at Nozolino's trial another glimpse of just how extensive the police investigation became in the days before his June 2010 arrest.
From a portable laptop computer, Jensen and detectives under his command used real-time GPS mapping software to monitor Nozolino around the clock.
On a day Nozolino quarreled with court personnel and angrily left the courthouse - promising he would be back - Jensen said the GPS tracker showed that Nozolino took a detour into a small residential neighborhood off Woodmen Road west of Interstate 25 and drove past the home of Kirk Samelson, then the chief judge of the 4th Judicial District.
Although Nozolino was there no more than a few minutes, the device showed he dropped his speed from 25 mph to 13 mph as he drove past, Jensen said.
In a case involving allegations that Nozolino targeted a judge and an attorney, prosecutors are likely banking on jurors reaching dark conclusions about his intentions.
A former Lockheed Martin software engineer, Nozolino is accused of fatally shooting his ex-wife's lover in 2008, partially blinding her former divorce attorney in 2002 and shooting into the home of the attorney and a judge in 2001. He is charged with 31 counts, including murder and attempted murder.
Jensen testified that police obtained warrants in June 2010 to place magnetic GPS devices on Nozolino's Chevrolet pickup and a Subaru Outback belonging to his girlfriend, Gretchen Kasameyer, a veterinarian and one-time Colorado Springs City Council candidate.
At the same time, police were granted permission to tap his phones - a one-two punch that allowed investigators to eavesdrop on Nozolino even as they say he tried to spy on the grand jury.
Police say Nozolino parked outside the courthouse after business hours June 22, 2010, when the grand jury was in session.
Defense attorney Tina Tussay pointed out that no crimes were reported on Samelson's street, Raven Hills Road, and noted that Nozolino's then-attorney's office was located near the courthouse.
No mention of the grand jury was allowed in discussing the electronic dragnet. Instead, presiding Judge Victor I. Reyes directed attorneys to refer to the grand jury investigation only as a "judicial proceeding" related to the allegations against Nozolino.
The judge said he didn't want to create the impression among jurors at Nozolino's murder trial that a different panel had already found him guilty of the crimes.
In fact, the grand jury determined that police and prosecutors had established "probable cause" to file charges against him, paving the way for the criminal trial now in progress.
To find Nozolino guilty of any crimes, the jury must reach a unanimous decision "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Nozolino's movements while the grand jury was in session led police to introduce tight security at the courthouse, including putting a SWAT sniper on the courthouse roof and allowing members of the grand jury to use an underground parking lot normally reserved for judges.
Those steps - which haven't been detailed at the criminal trial - led to an extensive and unsuccessful effort by prior counsel for Nozolino to overturn his grand jury indictment, on the argument that excessive security tainted the proceedings.
In another suggestion that Nozolino sought to interfere with the grand jury review, prosecutors elicited testimony Friday that he distributed a leaflet to a friend discouraging him from testifying under subpoena.
The leaflet was among the evidence heard at a 2012 trial that resulted in a witness tampering conviction against Nozolino, who also was convicted in 2012 of perjury.
Reyes sentenced him to 21 years in prison for those crimes.
One of the two convictions is now pending before the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Testimony is expected to continue at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Monday is a court holiday.