Suspect surrenders in trooper shooting
November 13, 2006
A woman has surrendered on charges related to the Oct. 24 shooting of a Colorado State Patrol trooper, and her arrest warrant affidavit details the gunman’s actions around the time of the shooting.Nichole Brownell, 39, turned herself in to the Garfield County sheriff’s office Saturday after being sought on charges including being an accessory to attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer. She immediately went free after posting an $11,000 bond.Police also have arrested Cori Graham and Wayne Hangs for their roles in allegedly aiding Steven Appl, 33, of the Battlement Mesa area after he shot trooper Brian Koch during a traffic stop near Silt. Graham was arrested the day after the shooting as she was driving a vehicle in which police say Appl tried to escape before shooting himself to death as the two were pulled over at a police checkpoint.Hangs owns, and Brownell lives in, a home up Dry Hollow Road where Appl reportedly had hid after Koch’s shooting. Hangs was arrested last week on felony charges of being an accessory to a crime and tampering with physical evidence, and a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a peace officer. He is free on a $5,000 bond.Hangs told police Appl first arrived at the home about 9 p.m. the evening of the shooting and spoke with Brownell for about 30 or 45 minutes, according to the arrest warrant affidavit, written by a Garfield County sheriff’s detective. Hangs suspected Appl was asking about $15,000 Brownell supposedly owed him for supplying methamphetamine to her, police say.Brownell had pleaded guilty to meth-related charges in Rifle in September. Appl also is said to have been a meth user and reportedly may have had the drug in his system when he shot Koch. Toxicology test results are still pending.Hangs said Appl left the house after meeting Brownell, but then called Brownell about 15 minutes later to say he was coming back.”Hangs stated about 10 minutes later, Brownell received a call on her cellular telephone. Brownell was hysterical and was saying, ‘We got to go’ over and over,” the affidavit states.”Hangs asked her what was wrong and Brownell stated ‘Dude called and said he just shot a cop.'”Hangs said Appl was known as Dude.Hangs said he, Brownell and Brownell’s boyfriend got in Hangs’ car and drove down his driveway when he saw Appl walking up the driveway. Appl, dressed in blue jeans and a gray T-shirt and carrying a black, soft-sided bag, said he had left his car on the shoulder of the road about 100 yards south of the driveway, Hangs reportedly told police.Appl was reported to have been driving a stolen car from Arizona the night of the shooting.Police had obtained a search warrant for Hangs’ home before Appl’s death based on information that he had been seen there. Conducting the search after his death, they looked in Brownell’s bedroom and found what appeared to be marijuana, digital scales typically used to measure and distribute narcotics, plastic bags used for drug distribution, and glass pipes and other paraphernalia used for consumption of meth, the affidavit says.Brownell is charged with felony crimes of being an accessory to a crime, tampering with physical evidence and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; and other charges of obstructing a peace officer, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.She is scheduled for sentencing in the Rifle drug case Friday, but her case file indicates she didn’t show up for a presentence investigation with a probation officer Oct. 17. The officer is recommending that her sentencing be delayed because of new charges against her. Brownell also was arrested on new meth-related charges in Mesa County in October.Brownell spoke to investigators Oct. 25 and admitted she had used meth earlier that day, the affidavit said. It said she also repeatedly changed her story about Appl and left information out because she knew she was in trouble, the affidavit said.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.