Driver of shooting suspect ‘freaked out’
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A DeBeque woman who said she “freaked out” after discovering a suspected cop shooter hiding out in a Silt-area bedroom has been arrested after allegedly trying to aid in his escape.Cori Elizabeth Graham, 27, was arrested shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday and was freed from Garfield County Jail Thursday after posting $8,250 bail. She is charged with felony counts of being an accessory to a crime and tampering with evidence, and a misdemeanor count of obstructing a peace officer.Police say Graham had been driving a red pickup truck in which Steven Appl, a western Garfield County resident who also had been wanted by Utah authorities on felony drug charges, shot himself after they were stopped at a checkpoint Wednesday night. Appl had been the subject of a manhunt after being named as the suspect in the shooting Tuesday night of Colorado State Patrol trooper Brian Koch.
Graham Wednesday night told authorties she had been contacted by investigation task force members about 3 p.m. that day and asked about Appl’s whereabouts. She said she knew Appl was in trouble for allegedly shooting an officer, but didn’t know where he was, according to an arrest affidavit by sheriff’s deputy Robert Glassmire.Graham said she then contacted a longtime friend, identified in the affidavit as Nikki Brownel, at a DeBeque-area bar. Graham told Glassmire that Brownel asked for a ride home, and the two arrived at a residence on County Road 331, also known as Dry Hollow Road, in the Silt area.Police say Appl had abandoned a vehicle with Arizona license plates about three miles up the road after his encounter with Koch.Graham said Brownel led her to a bedroom, where Appl was sitting on a bed.”Cori advised that she started to ‘freak out.’ Cori then told me that Nikki told her that the cops would be coming any minute wanting to search the house,” Glassmire wrote.
District Attorney Martin Beeson said Thursday that Brownel was under investigation but hadn’t been arrested in the case.Graham told Glassmire that Brownel and Appl wanted her to drive Appl to Silt, where she would leave the car with him and Brownel would pick her up later.”Cori then explained that Nikki wanted Steven out of the house and that he ended up getting in the back seat area of her vehicle,” the affidavit stated.It continued, “Cori stated that Steven told her that if the cops questioned her to tell the cops that he had threatened her into driving him out of the area. Cori also advised that Steven told her if anything happened he would probably end up shooting himself.”Beeson said authorities had been watching the house up Dry Hollow Road “for most of the day,” but said little about the reasons why because of the ongoing investigation into the case.
“We got some good intel, that’s about all I can say,” he said. Appl also had a $500 warrant out on him in Mesa County for resisting arrest.The outstanding warrants could help explain Appl’s actions Tuesday night. Police say he fired on Koch after the trooper made what authorities are describing as a routine traffic stop on the Rifle-Silt Road Tuesday night. Authorities didn’t identify the specific reason Appl was pulled over.In June, DeBeque police say, Appl tried to escape on foot when they pulled him over on his motorcycle and learned about the Utah warrant.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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