Glenwood: Witness recounts day of trooper shooting
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Wayne Hangs testified Tuesday that Nichole Brownell got off the phone, excited and hysterical, and said, “Dude just shot a cop.”
Hangs, a truck driver, struck a plea agreement with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony and cooperation. He testified against Brownell and is also expected to testify against Cori Graham.
Police say the two women tried to help Steven Appl ” who had the nickname “Dude” ” hide and try to escape after he shot former Colorado State Patrol Trooper Brian Koch in the arm during a 2006 traffic stop south of Silt. Appl shot himself while hiding under some blankets in the extended cab of a pickup truck at a police checkpoint the next day. Police say Graham was driving the truck.
Koch, who testified on Monday, said he left the State Patrol due to permanent injuries he suffered and is now a safety consultant for Conoco Philips.
Prosecutors allowed Hangs to plead guilty to tampering with evidence under a deferred judgment and sentence. Other charges were dismissed.
Hangs said Brownell and a group of other people were hanging out at his house on Dry Hollow Road on the night of the shooting, he said, when Brownell got the phone call from Appl that he’d shot a cop. They all left because they didn’t want to be involved with the police, Hangs said.
Hangs said the group drove to Silt and Rifle and then back to his house, where Brownell also lived. Police were there asking about Appl’s car nearby and the shooting but, “We all told them we didn’t know who it was,” Hangs said.
Kari Goin, an acquaintance, testified that Brownell told her Appl buried himself in the dirt that night to avoid the police and came in cold and dirty the next day. She admitted that she initially told police she stopped by Hangs’ home and saw a man who was probably Appl.
Brownell’s attorney, Chip McCrory, motioned for acquittal after Fitch rested the prosecution’s case. He said the two counts against Brownell are in essence identical, and being an accessory requires some kind of action more than just failing to call the police.
“Mere silence is not enough,” he said. “Hangs himself said Nikki didn’t say go to the house.”
The trail is expected to wrap up today. Hangs is scheduled for sentencing June 6. Graham’s trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 8.
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