Nozolino’s Former Confidant Testifies
In a deal to escape prosecution for his own alleged crimes, the married father of three secretly cooperated in a police probe focusing on his friend Bruce J. Nozolino – and the allegations Womack reported would catapult him into key witness status at Nozolino’s ongoing trial.
But it turns out Womack’s memory of those days isn’t so fresh.
Called to the stand Monday, Nozolino’s former friend and confidant offered a mixed-bag of testimony – standing firm that Nozolino once offered him money to “take care of” his ex-wife and another personal enemy but answering “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” when pressed to recall many other damaging allegations.
Nozolino is on trial for a 2008 slaying in Colorado Springs and three earlier shootings prosecutors tie to his contentious divorce.
Asked about the alleged “hits,” Womack, 47, said the offer was discussed over lunch at the now-shuttered Conway’s Red Top burger joint on South Nevada Avenue and that Nozolino offered him different payouts based on whether the targets were “scared,” “harmed,” or “killed.”
Among the statements Womack said he couldn’t remember were that Nozolino bragged about finding a backwoods route that could get him within 200 yards of a divorce attorney’s Palmer Lake home and that he ominously advised Womack to “watch the news” for evidence of Nozolino’s wrath.
“Did he tell you he was checking on the attorney’s movements and wanted to terrorize him and make him feel unsafe?” prosecutor Donna Billek asked, referring to one of Womack’s prior statements about an alleged disclosure by Nozolino.
“I don’t remember him saying that. It’s been awhile,” Womack replied in a soft voice, in what became a refrain as he was questioned on Monday.
Womack, a Colorado Springs native, testified that he befriended Nozolino in the 1990s.
At the time, Womack worked for a family-owned machine shop in Colorado Springs and served as a youth minister at Friendship Assembly of God on the city’s north side, and he and Nozolino would attend gun shows together, grab lunch with another friend and shoot at a rifle range.
But by 2004, Womack said his life had taken a turn: His company was foundering amid a downturn in business, and Womack developed a methamphetamine addiction even as he continued his duties at church.
On May 5, 2005, Womack was taken into custody by Colorado Springs police on suspicion of manufacturing methamphetamine and trying to sell C-4 plastic explosives to an undercover officer. Prosecutors offered him immunity for his cooperation against Nozolino, and all charges were dropped at his first court appearance, he said.
Defense attorney Jesse Glassman used the disclosures to hammer on Womack’s credibility, prodding the witness to agree with his characterization that in exchange for giving up “dirt” on Nozolino, authorities would “wash (his) indiscretions away.”
Womack acknowledged under cross-examination that he had also been involved in what Glassman called “gun running” and that he had been questioned by federal investigators in the early 1990s about threatening comments he’d made about a man he believed had cheated his parents in a business deal.
The jury heard lengthy recordings from a wire worn by Womack during some of his disputed conversations with Nozolino, but the audio was difficult to parse, leaving some jurors bored and others leaning forward in their seats, straining to make out what was said.
Prosecutors also focused on Womack’s story that Nozolino came to his church on the evening of Jan. 23, 2002, to return a Nissan Pathfinder he’d borrowed from Womack.
The same night, attorney John Ciccolella was shot in eye about 6 p.m., while working late in his downtown law office, a shooting for which Nozolino is charged.
Womack testified that Nozolino arrived between 6 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. – too late in his mind to make the trip from downtown.
According to prosecutor Billek, Womack previously told a detective it was “closer to 6:30.” Glassman said that on a different occasion, Womack put the time at closer to 6 p.m.
The church is located at 3685 New Center Point near Powers Boulevard and North Carefree Circle, about 9 miles from the scene of the shooting.
Womack testified that his last contact with Nozolino came in October or November of 2006, when the suspect called him out of the blue and demanded that he meet with Nozolino at a Home Depot on the north side.
Once inside, Womack said Nozolino directed him to the men’s room, where he was forced to lift up his shirt and drop his pants.
“He just wanted to make sure I wasn’t wired,” he said. “He knew I had been in contact with police.”
After the two men left, they walked the aisles together and Nozolino threatened him: “He said ‘I should take you out right here.'”
Womack, who moved to Texas in 2007, said he didn’t tell Nozolino about his methamphetamine use or involvement in illegal gun sales.
He is expected to resume testifying at 9 a.m. Tuesday.