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Four people unknowningly on a collision course.
Their lives would intersect and personal decisions would endanger, and tear their lives apart.
At the end of the chaos, one would lie dead, one imprisoned and two families lives upended.
IGNACIO & HEATHER GARRAUS
Heather Hodges meets Ignacio Garraus in college and they fall deeply in love.
1991 - Heather Hodges & Ignacio Garraus marry.
Photo: Heather & Ignacio Garraus
Ignacio becomes a policeman (Greely, Colorado).Heather tells him that if he ever cheats
on her she'll divorce him. Their marriage is a solid and happy one.
Ken Nelson & Shawna Nelson meet and marry. Later, the couple would welcome two children into their family. Shawna conducts intense affairs outside her marriage and eventually Ken has a liason of his own.
Photo: Ken Nelson & Shawna Louise Nelson
1993 - Heather Garraus begins working at a Credit Union near the Colorado University.
Maria Valdez (co-worker) "She would do anything for anybody. It doesn't matter
if she couldn't do it. She would find a way. She would go out of her way for you
if you needed something. If you were upset, she would make you feel better.
She didn't have one enemy in the whole world. She didn't have one mean bone
in her whole body."
1997 - Heather and Ignacio Garraus welcome a daughter, Victoria, into their lives.
Ignacio Garrus "Heather reveled in being a mother."
Photo: Heather & Victoria Garraus Heather, Victoria & Ignacio Garraus
2003 - The mother of Heather (Hodges) Garraus dies of cancer. Her father has previously
passed away from a heart attack. Heather becomes depressed and is prescribed
Jayme Harris (Heather's close friend) "Heather was afraid of dying young, a fear brought on by the death of her parents. She particularly worried about that after Victoria's birth."
Ignacio Garraus "She'd come home during that year. And eat. And then go up to the room
and we wouldn't see her till the next day. And that went on for a year." "And intimacy
became absent in our relationship." "I felt unloved. Neglected. And angry."
At work, Ignacio often spoke with, or ran into, Shawna Nelson, a dispatcher. Her husband
Ken Nelson is a Weld County sheriff's investigator.
Shawna Nelson has had other affairs. She has her eye on her next one, Ignacio Garraus.
Ignacio Garraus "She went out of her way to help me. I just figured, you know, she was a
Often while going into Starbucks for coffee Ignacio Garraus finds himself face to face with Shawna Nelson. (In light of later events, and Shawna's pursuit of men, it's likely she was there deliberately.)
Igancio Garraus "We started running into each other at Starbucks at Westlake. And we
started talking about, you know, some issues. And she was having some problems with her
husband. And I obviously was having some problems with Heather. And she -- you know, we
started confiding in each other."
Shawna pursues Ignacio agressively.
A FATAL ATTRACTION AFFAIR
Ignacio Garraus "And one night it became intimate." "I think I felt that all she wanted to do
was sleep with me and be done with me. She was safe."
Jennifer Morrison (County Dispatch Supervisor) " I saw what happened to people that crossed Shawna. And I didn't want to be one of those.
"She tended to have a lot of affairs. And when she was involved with someone, she would become very protective of that person and view that person's spouse as a threat to herself. So she would
the hostility never seemed to be directed at the person that was refusing to break up a relationship with their spouse or girlfriend. It seemed to be more directed at the woman in the relationship."
At some point, Ken Nelson, Shawna's husband has a brief affair. The woman works in the DA's office in Weld County. Shawna Nelson sends her hate mail and threatens to "kill her dogs."
Shawna Nelson often complains to her supervisor about her "rival" Heather Garraus and says "She's between me and Ig." She clearly hated Heather." "She would refer to Heather Garraus as a "hag" and "fat, disgusting."
"Shawna used to go to a target range and pretend she was shooting Heather Garraus. She left me with the impression that she imagined killing Heather."
Shawna Nelson doesn't confine her whining to her supervisor, but tells other
co-workers that she despises Heather Garraus and sees her as an obstacle
to life with Ignacio.
THREE MONTHS LATER
Ignacio Garraus "I mean, like three months in and she's like telling me that I'm the one. I'm the love of her life. Don't I love her? I'm like, "Whoa. Listen. I'm not leaving my life. I love my wife. This isn't going to happen."
"I could look back and I wish I could change a lot of different things. But I didn't know that her interest in me would become an obsession."
It would have been a good time to do some soul searching, and
break the affair off for good.
Shawna Nelson gets a tattoo of Ignacio's name on her ankle. She also keeps a journal
about their affair.
Ignacio Garraus "It disturbed me. To alter her body with my name ... we did not have
that type of relationship. Why would she put my name on her body?"
2004 - Shawna Nelson is pregnant. She claims the child is Ignacio's and not her husband's.
After a discussion, Shawna obtains an abortion. Ignacio agrees with her decision.
After a party Ignacioa Garraus obtains a ride home. Michelle Bush (Greely Paramedic)
provides the ride home. Shawna Nelson finds out and when she sees Michelle Bush at a
restaurant, jealously calls her a "whore."
2005 - The affair between Garraus and Nelson is on and off again. Ignacio knows it's wrong but at times he feels sorry for Shawna and "restarts their relationship. They continue to meet - parking lots (Greeley), Starbucks, Jackson's Bar & Grill (Greeley), Fort Collins, Denver, Grand Lake and Keystone.
Ignacio Garraus "Once you've soiled yourself, dirtied yourself, once you're in the mud, what's
the difference with having a little bit more mud on you, you know?
As time goes that feeling changes and Igancio Garraus feels he's trapped in the affair with no way out.
Ken Nelson files for divorce. When Shawna becomes pregnant, they reconcile.
Shawna Nelson informs Ignacio this child is also his.
Ignacio Garraus "After much discussion, we talked about a lot of things. Having an abortion was brought up, having the baby was brought up."
2006 - April - Shawna Nelson gives birth to a boy. She and her husband Ken have two children.
Ken cares for his new son.
Ignacio Garraus has been told by Shawna, and believes her, that the child Shawna Nelson she gave birth to is his. But he decides to terminate his rights with the child, leaving custody solely to Shawna Nelson. He believes the child would be better off with Ken Nelson. Which doesn't make Shawna happy.
NOT SO SUBTLE THREATS
Ignacio has made not only the mistake of having an affair, but of telling Shawna of Heather's declaration that she'd divorce him if she found him cheating.
Ignacio Garraus "You want me to not concede to that? My pride's probably what got me into this to begin with."
"It always was that thing ebbing in the background, underlying theme during the whole relationship was-- If you--be a good boy, Ig. Be a good boy, Ig and I won't tell Heather. You do what I say."
"The affair with Shawna Nelson, I compare it to being "held hostage. That (affair) was her leverage on me."
Photo: (Former police dispatcher) Shawna Nelson
"It was a daily thing where it's like, "How do I get out of this? Told Shawna that I wasn't going to leave Heather -- you'll do your thing. I go do my thing. It didn't work. No. She wanted me."
"I thought about it (telling Heather) I didn't want to lose Heather, so I didn't want to risk it."
Ignacio Garraus "Suddenly Shawna was showing up at places like the supermarket, clearly
seeking Heather out."
Wendy Jones (Heather's sister) " I know of at least four times, at least when Shawna Nelson would find Heather Garraus somewhere in Greeley and begin verbally abusing her in public.
Shawna would be with Michelle."
Jayme Harris (Heather's friend) "And she was meaner when she was with Michelle."
Wendy Jones "They would both point at Heather and laugh and call her names."
Photo: Heather Garraus & Jayme Harris
Jayme Harris " She used to say, "Why is this happening to me? I'm a good person."
(Whether Heather knew) " I don't know. I think a little bit.
Wendy Jones "I think she did. I think she put a lot of it together. I do."
Photo: Wendy Jones & sister Heather Garraus
Michelle Moore, a former Deputy, is Shawna Nelson's friend. The two laugh about their
stalking of Heather Garraus.
Ignacio Garraus: "I go, "Well, what the hell are you doing?" You know, "What is Heather doing to you? Nothing. Leave her alone. She's the innocent. Just stay out of it." Oh, and then she got very angry and she'd go, "Oh, I'm sorry. I'm not allowed to talk about Snow White."
CONFRONTATION & RECONCILIATION
2006 -16 December - Ignacio Garraus sneaks out of the house. He's to meet with Shawna
at the Cactus Canyon Bar. Both Shawna & Michelle Moore are there.
His phone rings. It's his wife Heather.
Ignacio asks a fellow policeman to drive him home.
Heather confronts Ignacio about having an affair & he fesses up.
Ignacio Garraus "I said 'Heather I've been having an affair with Shawna, she had a
baby it's mine. She was incredibly upset."
That night and next day is a tense one for Ignacio. Heather threatens divorce.
Heather Garraus decides to remain in her marriage but with conditions.
Photo: A note written by Heather Garraus to her husband Ignacio.
Ignacio Garraus " Whatever it took, I was going to do. Because I had a chance, a
grasp, a wisp of my life back."
"Ignacio is to end his relationship with Shawna Nelson.
He has to obtain an STD test, counseling, and if he
receives any further messages from Nelson, he is to
share them with Heather."
2006 - 18 December - With Heather by his side, Ignacio Garraus phones Shawna
Ignacio Garraus " I'm going to stay with Heather I'm not going to see you
again, and we are done, don't make any attempt to contact us again."
Michelle Moore has plenty of opportunity to put the brake on the plotting but does not.
She could have warned police, or someone else, but she does not. She could have
warned Ignacio, or Heather Garraus. She does not. Her boyfriend with whom she is living
with, is a police officer. She could have told him. She does not. Instead she helps her friend.
Photo: (Former Sheriff's Deputy) Michelle Moore's booking photo
Dean and Mary Runyuns (Michelle Moore's parents) (Christian Missionaries) "Michelle fell under the influence of Shawna Nelson. Michelle has always been a very friendly, open girl, but sometimes she's been taken advantage of because of her openness. She's an amazing young lady and we believe God has a plan for her."
Paige Walker (15) (daughter of another dispatcher) spends time with Shawna Nelson. "Shawna told me "I no longer love my husband Ken. I'm with him for the sake of our two children." And later "Heather has ruined my life."
Shawna Nelson wants Heather Garraus gone, dead. Out of the picture.
She tells Michelle Moore that she wants to get rid of her (Heather).
In some of their conversations they speak of "how to kill a person without
leaving evidence at the scene."
They plan for several weeks how to kill Heather Garraus.
Shawna tells Michelle Moore "I told Ken "I'd sold the gun outside the pawn shop" but I kept it."
Ken is missing a magazine from a gun.
JEALOUS, ANGRY ESCALATION
(voicemail) Shawna Nelson to Ignacio Garraus "Just so you know, I'm getting an attorney tomorrow. And I will get a DNA test, and you will pay me monthly. You think that you guys have no money now, you're really going to have no money later."
2006 -18 December - Shawna Nelson to Ignacio Garraus "My loyalty is gone. I love and trusted u
and u f***ed me. Be prepared."
Those are not the only messages. There are others. They are threatening.
Shawna Nelson begins stalking Ignacio and Heather.
2006 - December - Over Christmas the Garraus family visit relatives in Florida.
Heather Garraus "It's a reset button for our marriage."
Ignacio Garraus "I have my girl back. All to myself. And life was good."
24 December - 10:15 P.M. Christmas Eve - Shawna Nelson telephones Ignacio Garraus at
his parents' home
25 December - 9:30 A.M. Christmas morning - Shawna Nelson telephones Ignacio's
2007 - January - The Garraus family return home to Greely, Colorado.
The angry, threatening messages from Shawna continue.
Photo: A glimpse of a message from Shawna Nelson to Heather Garraus.
Ignacio and Heather decide to move her vehicle inside the garage out of concern that Shawna may slash her tires.
Shawna Nelson sends a picture text message to Heather Garraus.
It is a picture of Nelson and Garraus' child with the text "Iggy's flesh and blood."
The attorney for Ignacio and Heather serves Shawna Nelson a formal letter warning
her to cease all contact and stay away from both of them.
Wendy Jones (Heather's sister) "And then all of the emails stopped. And it was quiet. And I said, "This doesn't sound right, Heather."
2007 - 16 January - Igancio Garraus receives an email from Shawna Nelson. Within the message
is "I'm dead inside from all that has happened ... I wish you the best and hope
you can be happy. I am now living every day in hell."
AN EXECUTION STYLE MURDER
2007 - 22 January - Heather Garraus doesn't know it, but she buys herself one more night and
one more day of life.
This is the day that Shawna Nelson and Michelle Moore have planned for Heather Garraus to die.
Michelle Moore is to be Shawna's alibi. "I was supposed to tell anyone who asked that Shawna was bathing. A drugged ken was sleeping and I was going to stay there to watch kids while Shawna killed Heather."
Heather Garraus leaves work early.
2007 - 23 January - After school - Victoria Garraus (9 year old daughter of Heather & Ignacio)
and her father Ignacio are together that afternoon. They eat ice cream and
go grocery shopping. Ignacio cooks hamburgers while Victoria does her
homework. Victoria speaks to her mother Heather on the phone and asks her
a question about a homework problem and Heather helps her solve it.
2007 - 23 January - Shortly before 6:15 - An ATM camera near the credit union records a 2001
black Ford F250 truck driving to the credit union.
6:15 P.M. - The Colorado State Employees Credit Union has closed and employees are
leaving work for the day.
Five of the personnel, Brad Mitchell, Melinda Maeder, Heather
Garrus, Maria Valdez and Nicole Gordova are among the employees
leaving for the day. They are walking together in the parking lot walking
to their vehicles.
A woman dressed in black, wearing a black hood and a mask comes out of nowhere and
points a gun at Heather Garraus. "You ruined my life! Get on the ground!"
Heather Garrus "Ok, Ok" and she kneels onto the tarmac of the parking lot onto her knees.
She looks up at one of her co-workers and her face is the last Heather will ever see.
Melinda Maeder "I saw Heather Garraus “on her knees with her hands in the air.”
The woman in black raises her arm and fires two shots into Heather Garraus. Then the
black clad figure begins running down the alley.
Heather Garrus lies motionless in blood upon the tarmac.
At the Colorado Medical Center, 30 minutes later, Heather Garraus is pronounced deceased.
Brad Mitchell immediately phones 911. The dispatcher asks him to give CPR.
"There's too much blood!" The tape is rollling and records screams and crying.
"There's blood everywhere!"
Nicole Cordova phones 911. The tape records her saying over and over "Oh my God!” “She
came out of nowhere!”
Sara Staley, another credit union employee who works with Heather phones the Garraus home to inform Ignacio about the shooting.
Photo: Coffee cup and shell casings
CRIME SCENE PHOTOS (Denver)
CRIMIE SCENE EVIDENCE PHOTOS (MSNBC)
Victoria Garrus answers the phone. After Ignacio speaks to Sara Staley, he and Victoria rush to the hospital.
Ignacio Garraus "I left Victoria in the police car and I went flying into the trauma room. And then the doctor stops me at the door. I never saw Heather. The doctor says "Heather's gone, Ig. Heather's gone." For them to stop me at the door, I knew there was a reason they don't want me to see something."
So I go and I pull Victoria from the patrol car. I go, "Victoria, mommy's dead." Imagine telling your kid that. So we sat there out in the cold, crying."
INVESTIGATION ON SCENE
Matthew Youngs (First police officer on scene) "Witnesses named Nelson as a suspect early in my investigation."
As the black clad figures flees, she passes two persons who are smoking cigarettes outside the nearby, adjacent Dugout Bar.
When police arrive Julie Villa, (patron of the bar) provides a description "a figure wearing a dark hood sped off in a Green Ford truck.
A witness tells the officer "the shooter ran like a woman." Another says "look for Shawna Nelson."
Brad Mitchell and Nicole Cordova tell police they heard the shooter say “you ruined my life”
Melinda Maeder believes she hears the shooter say “you denied me a loan."
All three state "they knew Nelson because she’d been a member of the credit union but could not see through the mask to see the shooter’s face."
Investigators find two shell casings recovered at the crime scene. They match Ken Nelson's .40-caliber Glock model 22. DNA on the shell casings - Shawna Nelson's.
A tire track from the truck is perfectly imprinted into the snow.
At the Nelson home, police find a fully-drawn bathtub waiting for her.
PHONE CALL TO A CONSPIRATOR
Shawna Nelson phones Michelle Moore "I am going take a bath." That was their code for
"I killed Heather."
Ken Nelson "I was at his home for dinner around 5:15 and the children were all in the basement playing. They told me "Mom is bathing." Her purse and keys were on the table. And she wasn't in the master bedroom. I didn't see my truck but didn't look for it. I left there after about 10 minutes, dropped by my mothers to grab a couple rolls to eat and drove back to the SWAT office. I arrived back there around 5:45"
An APB goes out over the police radios. Ken Nelson, Shawna Nelson's husband is at work and
he and his supervisor Kell Hulsey hear about the shooting of Heather Garrus and that the suspect is Shawna Nelson.
Kell Hulsey "We couldn't believe we had heard Shawna Nelson's name. He (Ken Nelson)
looked up at me and said 'let's go." "Ken Nelson immediately handed his gun to me the
moment I got into his (Ken Nelson's) Jeep.
"Ken Nelson was a gun enthusiast. He was a firearm instructor ... he had several different
types of guns. I'm not sure if the gun handed to me was from Ken Nelson's holster."
Ken Nelson "I handed my duty weapon, a Glock model 22 over to my supervisor."
THE SUSPECT IS APPREHENDED
Ken Nelson and his supervisor rush towards his (Nelson's) home. Less than 20 minutes after the shooting, Ken spots his 2001 black Ford F250 truck a few blocks from home. He is upset and yells to his wife, Shawna to "Stop!"
Ken Nelson "Give me my (expletive) gun!" Kell Hulsey "(expletive) no!" He shoves the gun under the seat. "I was afraid he might hit her. I thought he might be armed."
Kell Hulsey "I never saw Ken lean over the door, get in the truck, remove anything from
the truck or hold a gun at any time."
Shawna Nelson is dressed in a black tracksuit. She is barefoot and is wearing a ball cap.
Kell Hulsey "She (Nelson) kept saying 'What's wrong, why are you so mad?"
Ken Nelson "I stood in road to stop Shawna and told her to get out. She slid over to the passenger side and exited the vehicle. I leaned into the truck and saw the mask on the floor of the passenger side. I was trying to locate the magazine for my gun in the truck but didn't see it." I left in my jeep and drove home to check on the kids."
Photo: Ken Nelson in court
Ken Nelson "My son was in the hallway with his karaoke and I told him to put on his coat and get in car. The other two children were in the basement and I went and got them. I saw my rifle and picked it up and looked at it but didn't check any other item. I didn't check to see if Shawna's purse and keys were still there. I've never seen the mask at my residence."
Kell Hulsey "I glanced into the vehicle and didn't see a gun. She (Nelson) was wearing
black sweatpants and a sweater that tied in the front."
6:40 P.M. - Mark Forgue (Greely police officer) responds to the location after hearing the report
that the vehicle had been pulled over.
Mark Forgue "I saw they were standing on the passenger side of the truck and the
passenger door was open. I didn't know Shawna Nelson, I did recognize Hulsey."
"I put bags and flex cuffs on Nelson's hands to preserve possible gunshot
residue." " I noticed she was not wearing shoes because Nelson complained her feet
Shawna Nelson "I was just going to get a beer!" "You guys are making a scene!"
Kell Hulsey "At that point the officers informed her that Garraus was shot."
James Hartshorn (17) (University High School student) is coming out of the school parking lot.
"I saw a jeep and a truck blocking the road. A man got out of the jeep on the driver's side. He reached into the cab of the truck and pulled something out. He leaned more than half of his body into the truck. I couldn't see anything in the man's hands because they were in his pockets as he got back into the jeep. He drove away toward the west." "As I was driving away I saw and undercover police car with lights flashing speed towards the intersection."
Shawna Nelson is being transported to the police station. Along the way
she makes comments to Officer Forgue.
Shawna Nelson "I think my husband is mad at me because I left the kids home alone
while I went to the liquor store. I don't know what this is all about."
"I bumped my head several days ago and I'm not quite right."
Photo: Shawna Nelson Booking photo
While being processed at the jail officers find that Shawna Nelson is wearing a pair of men's underwear and socks. Even the sweatsuit turns out to be from her husband's dirty clothes.
There is no black robe in the vehicle nor on Shawna Nelson. The mask in the vehicle has DNA - Shawna Nelson's. A pebble in a truck tire matches those at the crime scene.
Shawna Nelson "I don't know what to do." Nelson is advised of her rights and she signs her signature to the waiver stating she has been so advised. "If it gets 'funky' I can still ask for a lawyer right?"
Shawna Nelson in the holding room being interviewed. *Note - it is long but worth viewing.
Nelson reaches several times to touch the officer. When told that a vehicle like hers and a woman dressed as she was, was seen leaving the scene at the Credit Union, Shawna Nelson does not ask "who was shot, or who was killed."
Shawna Nelson asks for an attorney.
Shawna Louise Nelson (35) is handcuffed, sporting a jail house orange jumpsuit is escorted into the courtroom. She hides her face behind her hair. She arraigned on first degree murder charges.
Officer escorting Shawna Nelson
REACTION TO THE ARREST
Yvonne Younger (co-worker of Heather Garraus) "She was a wonderful mother. She was a wonderful supervisor. We all loved her. We were a family. She was just taken from us. We're never going to be the same again."
Martha Meyer (friend of Heather Garraus) "I have no word to explain it. She took our best friend away from us. She was wonderful and she took her away from us."
Ignacio Garraus resigns from the Greely Police Dept. he and Victoria move to Florida to be with relatives, but they return for the trial to testify.
SEARCHING FOR EVIDENCE
A black pair of men's shoes are found in the neighborhood close to the Nelson home, less than a 1, 000 feet from the truck, thrown into the snow. Shawna Nelson's DNA is found on the shoes
Officer Mark Forgue continues to searche the neighborhood where Nelson had been stopped. He is looking for witnesses, the gun or other evidence.
Mark Forgue "It seemed like I searched everyday for a couple weeks. Idid not find anything related to the case."
Shawna Nelson denies wearing any men's black shoes.
JAIL PHONE CALLS
Shawna Nelson makes a lot of phone calls.
Her older sister Debra Smith receives some of the calls. Nelson asks her to sign onto "Pix Place" and delete some photos." Debra tells Nelson "I could get into trouble for that." None of the photos are deleted.
Shawna Nelson speaks to Ken. She doesn't ask about the children. He's concerned about the children. Ken tells her that he took their daughter to Scouts.
Shawna tells him "I suffer from blackouts. I can't recall the day of the shooting but I remember finding myself waking up in front of a liquor store."
Shawn Nelson complains to him "It's just a bunch of concrete in here."
Investigators interview Michelle Moore several times. She continues to cover for Shawna and provides half truths. Finally she confesses to her part and tells them everything.
Michelle Moore is charged with plotting to commit murder, and later agrees to a plea deal of "accessory to attempted murder (the January 22nd attempt)" in exchange for her testimony.
Based on a witness's testimony, Ken Nelson is charged with evidence tampering.
Ken Nelson divorces Shawna Nelson. He resigns from the Weld County police Dept and moves his family to Walla Walla, Washington. Later they move back to Greely, Colorado. He testifies against Shawna Nelson.
CHANGE OF VENUE
The trial is moved to Larimer County.
There is a conflict of interest. Ken Nelson had previously had a brief affair with an employee of
the Weld Co. DA's office. Also, the Prosecutor's office feels that it would be impossible to find
enough jurors without connection to either family, their friends, or the witnesses in the trial.
Photos of Witnesses (The Coloradoan)
Prosecutor Cliff Riedel "Shawna Nelson may have dropped the shell casings at the scene to implicate her jusband in the crime. "If he (Ken Nelson) was convicted of the crime, she has
Ignacio, she's got their kids and she's free."
Lead Investigator Sharpe - He had purchased a mask like the mask the killer wore on the night of the murder. He identifies the mask. He identifies a cell phone and a catalogue which shows you can purchase the mask. The catalogue is from the manufacture of those mask. The cell and mask are put into evidence. After foundation is set the catalogue is allowed into evidence. It says 'You can see out but they can't see in' ..."
Tire impression expert - "He has the actual tire, the cast, and inked impressions from it and shows the jury how that tire coming from Shawna's truck is the only one that could have made the impression in the snow at the scene."
Victoria Garraus (10), and Ignacio Garraus testify. Ken Nelson testifies.
So does Michelle Moore. She testifies to helping Nelson plot Garraus' death. "Shawna wanted
to get rid of Heather Garraus so she and Ignacio could live together with the son conceived during their affair." She denies being behind the wheel of the truck or of having a part in the actual killing.
Michelle Moore "I didn't go to police earlier to tell them about Nelson's intentions out of a false sense of loyalty. In some ways, I was being loyal because I didn't want to believe what happened." "She had said that she wanted to get rid of her."
Prosecutor: "Was there any doubt in your mind what she meant?"
Michelle Moore: "Not now I guess, no, there's no doubt."
The Defense questions Michelle Moore over her relationship with Shawna Nelson, seeming to
imply that they had a closer, sexual relationship and was testifying because Nelson had broken off their relationship.
Michelle Moore "There was no sexual relationship. We were friendly like "sisters."
Witnesses at the murder scene testify. 911 calls are played. Audio tapes from jail phone calls are played.
Testimony regarding the evidence, truck tire print, pebble, DNA in the mask, the shoes are submitted. Testimony regarding Shawna's Nelson's attire (her husband's clothing) is submitted
Yvonne Woods (DNA analyst from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation) testifies "Shawna Nelson's DNA was found on shoes discovered near the scene of the shooting. Other female DNA also was on the shoes."
Alex Rugh (CBI) "Shawna Nelson's right hand and face tested positive for gunshot residue.
However, the mask found in Nelson's truck and a left shoe found near the murder scene did not test positive for residue." "Gunshot residue could be transferred from a police officer or police car if the residue is already present."
Dr. John Carver, (Forensic Pathologist) "Heather Garraus was killed by two gunshot wounds, one at point-blank range on Garraus's left temple."
SHAWNA NELSON'S TESTIMONY
Prosecution examination of Shawna Nelson on the stand
Shawna Nelson denies murdering Heather Garraus. Denies going to the shooting range and pretending to shoot Heather Garraus.
Shawna Nelson "I was on my way to a liquor store around the time of the shooting."
"It was someone else behind that mask."
(In 2004) "I wanted to protect Heather Garraus and told her that I was not having an affair with her husband Ignacio Garraus. I told her I love her and I would never get between her and Ig." She admits she was lying to Heather and that the conversation occurred about a month after she told Ignacio Garraus she was pregnant with his child.
"I never wanted Ignacio Garraus to leave his wife, Heather." "I wanted to stay with my husband Ken. " "We both came to the conclusion we didn't want to leave the life we had."
Nelson testified that the "threatening messages" were misinterpreted. "Be prepared" meant that I was going to get child suport from Ignacio for our son. " I was angry I couldn't believe Ig would abandon (his son) like that.
"I didn't own any handguns at the time of Heather Garraus' shooting. I pawned two handguns, (including one a few days before the shooting of Garraus) that was to pay for a trip to Las Vegas."
Nelson testifies she had an "illicit affair" with Michelle Moore.
Defense Attorney "Has drama taken place between you and Mr. Garraus, you and Heather
Shawna Nelson "Yes."
Defense Attorney "Ever have the desire to kill or shoot Heather over any of this?"
Shawna Nelson "Never."
The jury finds Shawna Nelson guilty and convicts her for the First degree murder of Heather Garraus.
Photo: Shawna Nelson hears verdict.
2008 - 3 March -Larimer County Justice Center in Fort Collins, Colorado
Shawna Louise Nelson is sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Judge Roger Klien "You killed Heather Garraus. You carried this out with great planning and
deliberation. You deserve to serve every day of the sentence I am about to
impose, and I sentence you to the Colorado Department of Corrections for the
remainder of your natural life and without the possibility of parole."
Photo: Shawna Nelson just after sentencing.
Maria Valdez (Friend and co-worker of Heather Garraus) "The jury's decision only bolstered my belief that Nelson is guilty. I'm glad justice was served. It makes us sad Shawna didn't have any remorse, because she knew she did it."
Debbie Smith (Shawna Nelson's sister) "I blame the Greeley Police Department and the media for Shawna's conviction. To me, Shawna was arrested, tried and convicted in the first 15 minutes of this horrible thing."
" A lot of people have believed that she's this monster. And it's not true. There was an affair. It did go back and forth. I think that there were times that she probably pursued Ignacio after they had ended it. There were times that he pursued her. He's despicable. I hope he's a better father than
he is a person."
"I will never stop fighting for her, and I will never quit fighting to see her children. She has three beautiful children."
9 News Paula Woodward interviews Shawna Nelson after her conviction
Shawna Nelson speaks from prison
Shawna Nelson "Somebody killed (Heather Garraus), but it wasn't me. I'm innocent. I can't explain what they (jury) were feeling. All I can think is that they didn't look. There was reasonable doubt in this case. I know it looked bad. Through the whole thing it's looked bad. I felt like a "thumped bug" when the guilty verdict was read."
"For cheating, for lying to my husband and not being faithful, not being loyal to him, I most definitely know how wrong I've been. My children are the ones that are paying for this as much as I am. And it's not fair. It's not fair to them."
"Somebody did a really good job of framing me."
TRIAL & SENTENCING OF MICHELLE MOORE
Prosecutor Cliff Reidel "She could have prevented the murder on multiple occasions but she did
not. She repeatedly rendered assistance to Shawna Nelson.
Judge Hartmann "Each time you had a conversation with Shawna Nelson, you were empowering
her to kill Heather Garraus. You were a willing and active participant in this
crime." Frankly, you should consider yourself lucky you're not spending a
majority of your life in prison."
Hartman sentences Michelle Moore to 9 years in jail and three years mandatory parole.
EVIDENCE TAMPERING CHARGES DROPPED
Evidence tampering charges against Ken Nelson are dropped.
Prosecutor Cliff Reidel "Shawna Nelson may have tried to frame Ken Nelson for the murder of Heather Garraus."
"I drive my husband's truck. I use my husband's service revolver. I wear my husband's underwear. I wear my husband's socks. I wear my husband's ball cap. I murder Ignacio's wife. If the police come looking, everything will point, physical evidence will point to my husband. If my husband gets accused of this murder. He's out of the picture. I have the children. Heather Garraus is deceased. Ig's available. We can all be one, big happy family."
"I believe the evidence shows Shawna Nelson was clearly diabolical."
Ignacio Garraus "I did the shallow thing. That my wife wouldn't be intimate with me, I would go find it somewhere else. So now I'm a shallow adulterer. I don't run from this. Oh, yes, I loathe. And I got to hide it so my kid doesn't see how bad I loathe myself. Because a beautiful woman's dead for me having an affair, the chain of events that I had no way of foreseeing. But ultimately if I never had an affair, Heather would be alive. It's on me."
Photo: Ignacio Garraus
2009 - 26 September - Shawna Nelson files legal documents seeking to drop her appeal of her
first-degree-murder conviction and seeking a hearing where she will claim she
had ineffective counsel during the trial.
Photo: Shawna Louise Nelson behind prison walls.