Woman surrenders as more details of Appl case emerge
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. 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 $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 near Silt.Hangs owns, and Brownell lives in, a home up Dry Hollow Road where Appl reportedly had hidden 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 $5,000 bond.In an affidavit in support of the arrests of Hangs and Brownell, police say Hangs told them that Appl had been at his home within a few hours before the shooting. Immediately afterward, he called Brownell to tell her what he had done, and then showed up at their home, the affidavit indicates.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 ten 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.He said he, Brownell and Brownell’s boyfriend got in Hangs’ car and Hangs 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.Hangs told police Brownell told Appl to go to the house, and Hangs drove Brownell and her boyfriend around the Rifle area for about an hour, stopping at some point to fill up on gas.”Hangs said Brownell wanted the three of them to be away from the house for a while so they could tell the cops that they were not at the house when Appl came,” the affidavit said.Hangs reportedly told police that a county SWAT team came around 2:30 a.m. the next morning to warn him of an armed man who may have been loose in the area. The team was searching residences for safety reasons, and Hangs told the team he already knew that because a nearby relative had called to say police had searched her house.Police didn’t find Appl in searching Hangs’ house. Appl reportedly had gone outside and dug a hole to bury himself in to avoid getting caught.”Hangs does recall later seeing Appl after SWAT left the house, and Appl was cold, wet and dirty,” the affidavit said.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 pre-sentence 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.In one version, she said Appl walked into the home and she saw him in the kitchen.”Brownell indicated Appl looked terrible and scared. Appl stated, ‘I’m in big trouble,'” the affidavit said.Brownell said Appl didn’t want to get her in trouble, and she didn’t know what to do so she left with him inside.Graham has told police Brownell went to DeBeque to pick her up, and returned to the home and asked Graham to drive Appl to Silt. Brownell told police Appl had wanted Graham to take him to Phoenix, but Brownell said, “that’s not … realistic,” the affidavit said.Brownell had left her home with her boyfriend Thursday before police could arrest her, but Vallario said he doesn’t believe Brownell was trying to flee. He said it appears that once she found out she was wanted, she arranged to have someone bring her in to surrender.He said it doesn’t appear her boyfriend tried to help her escape or was involved in trying to aid Appl.Contact Dennis Webb: email@example.com
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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