Update: Charges Dropped Against Ken Nelson | MyWindsorNow.com

Update: Charges Dropped Against Ken Nelson

Rebecca Boyle

Ken Nelson will no longer face charges stemming from his wife’s conviction for murder, Larimer County prosecutors announced Thursday.

The case involves Ken Nelson’s wife, Shawna Nelson, who was convicted March 3 for the murder of Heather Garraus, the wife of a Greeley police officer with whom Shawna Nelson had an affair.

Todd Taylor, Ken Nelson’s defense attorney, said his client would try to move on with his life.

“We believed from the very beginning that he would be exonerated, and have never, never doubted that. So I’m not surprised that they’ve dismissed the charges. I’m thankful that they decided to dismiss the charges, rather than putting him through the expense and anxiety of a trial,” Taylor said. “… He is going to try to move on with his life. His primary focus, as it’s always been, is on his children.”

Ken Nelson had been charged after police believed he tampered with the murder weapon. He was arrested after a Colorado Bureau of Investigation analyst determined a gun belonging to Ken Nelson fired shells found at the scene where Heather Garraus was gunned down.

A major prosecution witness, Shawna Nelson’s best friend Michelle Moore, told investigators and the jury that she and Shawna Nelson had discussed planting evidence at the murder scene. It’s plausible, then, that the shells fired by Ken Nelson’s gun were dropped at the shooting scene on purpose, but are not the same ones that killed Heather Garraus. A separate weapon has never been recovered.

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In a statement Thursday, the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office did not expound upon the reasons for dropping the charges against Ken Nelson, but said Shawna Nelson’s trial and statements provided by Moore changed his case.

“In light of the new information received from Michelle Moore’s November statements, as well as testimony presented during the murder trial of Shawna Nelson, (prosecutors) conducted a review of the charges filed against Mr. Nelson. Based upon that review, the People believe the status of the admissible evidence currently available against Mr. Nelson has changed from what had existed at the time the charges were filed,” the statement said.

The “people” refers to the people of the state of Colorado, another term for the prosecutors’ office.

Moore already accepted a plea bargain to a charge of being an accessory to murder. She faces up to nine years in prison when she is sentenced next month.

Ignacio Garraus, Heather Garraus’ husband, had a three-year affair with Shawna Nelson that resulted in a baby boy. Prosecutors said Nelson viewed Heather Garraus as an obstacle to a lasting relationship with Ignacio Garraus and the baby.

Heather Garraus was shot as she left work Jan. 23, 2007. Witnesses said the masked shooter told her to get on the ground and that “you ruined my life.”

Shawna Nelson’s defense attorneys said she planned to appeal her conviction. She continues to maintain that she is not the one who killed Heather Garraus. Pending an appeal, her sentence is to spend the rest of her life in a women’s correctional facility.

Police said Shawna Nelson drove home after the murder and was confronted by her husband, a Weld County Sheriff’s deputy and drug task force member. Ken Nelson said during the trial that he’d heard her name over a police radio as a murder suspect, and he worried about his kids.

As he sped for home to check on them, he handed his duty weapon, a Glock model 22, to his boss, Kell Hulsey. He said under immunity ” meaning anything he said in the trial could not be used against him in his own case ” that he never saw the gun after that.

He stopped his undercover car in front of his wife, who was driving his truck, and confronted her.

Police said said one witness saw Ken Nelson take something out of the truck; police believed it was the murder weapon. Later, Ken Nelson turned in his service weapon, part of normal procedure, and a weapons analyst later determined it fired the shell casings found at the murder scene.

Hulsey told jurors he never saw Ken Nelson take anything out of the truck.

The prosecution’s motion to dismiss charges said the trial provided evidence that could be exculpatory for Ken Nelson and that they didn’t think they could prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Taylor said the dismissal of charges was a relief.

“I think the biggest thing Ken would want people to know is that he feels very strongly that the focus should not be on him. The focus should be on Heather and (her daughter), and that they are very much the victims in this case. That probably is one of the things he was most disappointed about; all the media attention spent to his case, it took away attention that he feels should rightfully be focused on Heather and (her daughter),” Taylor said.

He added that divorce proceedings between Ken and Shawna Nelson should be finalized soon.

“We hope to get that done, and he’s going to have to figure out how best to heal him and his children,” he said.

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