Man’s testimony in trooper shooting could defer felony charge |

Man’s testimony in trooper shooting could defer felony charge

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Wayne Hangs wished he had spoken up about former Colorado State Patrol Trooper Brian Koch’s shooting long ago.

Hangs was sentenced Friday to 18 months probation under a deferred judgment and sentence. He pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence. If he cooperates and doesn’t get into trouble, the felony could disappear from his record. He was accused of being an accomplice to Koch’s shooting.

“I feel very sorry for that,” Hangs said Friday. “I had a part in that and I wish I would have said something about it a long time ago.”

Hangs, a 46-year-old truck driver, struck the plea deal with the prosecution in part for his testimony against Nichole Brownell. A jury convicted her on May 21 of two counts of being an accessory to first-degree murder.

Hangs is also expected to testify against Cori Graham in December. Police said Hangs, Brownell and Graham tried to help Steven Appl hide and escape after Appl shot former Trooper Brian Koch in the arm during a 2006 traffic stop south of Silt.

Appl buried himself in the dirt outside Hangs’ home to avoid police, and later shot himself while hiding under blankets in a pickup truck at a police checkpoint the next day. Police said Graham was driving the truck.

Brownell had gotten a call from Appl saying that he’d shot a cop, but none of the three accused accomplices said anything to police about the shooting. Hangs said Brownell was dealing methamphetamines for Appl while she was living in Hangs’ home. Koch suffered permanent injuries but survived and left the patrol to become a safety consultant with ConocoPhillips.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Fitch said Hangs has fulfilled his part of the plea agreement. She recommended a drug evaluation.

“It’s clear that drugs have been a big part of his life and this event,” she said.

Hangs’ attorney, Bill Schubert, said he agreed Hangs is in need of drug counseling.

He said Hangs was only involved in the case because of his association with drug users. Hangs has had a steady job and is a hardworking guy who is “a person who finds himself in awkward situations,” Schubert said.

“I think it really woke him up to what he’s got to do in his life,” he said.

Before sentencing, District Judge Denise Lynch said Hangs seemed to be hanging out with the wrong people and got sucked into the events surrounding the shooting.

“I think you do need to do a better job of picking your friends,” she said.