Trooper shooting accomplice gets one year in drug case |

Trooper shooting accomplice gets one year in drug case

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Nichole Brownell entered a plea deal and received a one-year prison sentence Tuesday just as the trial for her 2005 drug case was scheduled to begin today.

She was convicted in May of two counts of being an accessory to Steven Appl’s shooting of former Colorado State Patrol Trooper Brian Koch during a traffic stop south of Silt on Oct. 24, 2006. Police said Brownell, 41, tried to help Appl hide after the shooting and later try to escape by arranging a ride for him.

Appl, who police said was a methamphetamine dealer that supplied Brownell, shot himself the night after the shooting in a pickup truck at a police checkpoint. Koch survived but has permanent injuries and left the CSP to become a safety consultant with ConocoPhillips.

Brownell received a five-year prison sentence Sept. 19 for the accomplice charges. District Judge Denise Lynch sentenced Brownell Tuesday to one year for a charge from the 2005 drug case. The sentences are to run concurrently ” meaning they’ll be served at the same time, and Tuesday’s sentence won’t result in extra prison time being tacked on after she serves the five-year sentence.

Brownell was allowed to plead guilty to one drug possession charge while seven other charges were dismissed in the plea deal for the 2005 drug case. The Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team obtained a warrant to search her Rifle home in August 2005 and said it found more than 180 grams of marijuana and much smaller amounts of cocaine and meth. TRIDENT also said it found marijuana in her son’s room, scales, small Ziploc bags and surveillance cameras used to monitor the doors of the home.

Brownell was arrested Aug. 16 at Denver International Airport after someone tipped off authorities that she’d purchased a one-way ticket to Puerto Rico, an investigator said. Police believe she wanted to disappear and avoid sentencing.

Deputy District Attorney Jon Pototsky said that previously Brownell said she was only going on a short vacation and planned to come back before sentencing. But he added that he recently received a letter Brownell sent to a man saying, “I also wanted to tell you that if we would have made it on that airplane I would have never come back.”

Lynch suggested Brownell get treatment for drug addiction and she said, “I think we all know what’s led you down this path is your severe addiction.” Lynch, who presides over the judicial district’s drug court, said during the trooper shooting accomplice sentence hearing that Brownell was probably the most addicted person who’s ever come before her in court.

Police say Cori Graham, 29, of DeBeque, also was an accomplice to the trooper shooting and that she tried to help Appl escape by driving him in the truck in which he shot himself. She’s scheduled to go to trial in December. Her attorney has said she only drove the truck because Appl had a gun.

Wayne Hangs, a 46-year-old truck driver who owned the home in which Appl hid, was also accused as an accessory. He struck a plea deal that could lead to the case against him getting dismissed after an 18-month deferred judgment and sentence. As part of the deal, he testified against Brownell and is expected to testify against Graham.

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