Hearing for alleged shooter reveals DNA, video evidence

Nicholas Locascio is accused of killing worker at Centennial business

Posted 9/10/17

At a preliminary hearing for the man accused of killing employee Justin Doe at a Centennial business, prosecutors laid out evidence pointing to Nicholas Locascio — possibly high on methamphetamine and later caught at a 24 Hour Fitness — although …

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Hearing for alleged shooter reveals DNA, video evidence

Nicholas Locascio is accused of killing worker at Centennial business

Posted

At a preliminary hearing for the man accused of killing employee Justin Doe at a Centennial business, prosecutors laid out evidence pointing to Nicholas Locascio — possibly high on methamphetamine and later caught at a 24 Hour Fitness — although the motive remained unclear.

Security-camera footage shows Locascio, 29, in the parking lot at Quality Electric Distribution at 7000 S. Jordan Road at the time of the March shooting and fleeing on foot after it, according to an investigator's testimony. Locascio's DNA was identified on a cigarette butt found underneath the body of 32-year-old Doe, which lay in that parking lot next to a splattering of blood on a brick wall. He was shot once in the head.

The preliminary hearing to determine whether Locascio would be brought to trial for first-degree murder and possession of a controlled substance did not yet conclude despite running for nearly seven hours on Sept. 7 at the Arapahoe County District Court.

In a preliminary hearing, a judge decides whether there is enough evidence to take the case to trial — it doesn't decide whether a suspect is guilty.

Doe's manager at QED didn't hear what happened outside between Locascio and Doe the morning of March 22, but when he heard a gunshot, he came out the back door and saw Doe lying on the ground, he told the court.

The manager, Nathan VanDusseldorp, said Doe went out a door on the side of the building, possibly to get something from his car. He opened his car door and appeared to lean into the vehicle a few minutes after 10:30 a.m. Doe stepped back in briefly and asked if they had a customer, and the manager said there were none there. VanDusseldorp said he then opened the door for a few seconds and saw a man facing Doe, less than a car-length apart.

“I just remember him looking kind of like a drugged-out guy,” VanDusseldorp said. “He did not look good.”

Doe said something like, “Don't worry about it; go inside” and was nonchalant, VanDusseldorp said.

The manager went back inside, and then he heard the gunshot, he said. VanDusseldorp said no one could hear what may have transpired between Locascio and Doe because the building walls are brick.

Deputy Brett Robson with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office said he believed Doe to be deceased when he arrived on scene after the shooting, which happened about 10:45 a.m.

He had “severe head trauma, lot of blood loss ...,” Robson said.

Surveillance video from StorQuest Self Storage, one parking lot over from QED, caught who authorities said is Locascio on camera standing between cars and the building wall in the QED lot. He reached into the bed of a truck near Doe's car and then walked behind Doe's car, out of view of the camera, before Doe appeared to reach into it. Doe's blood trails down the pavement in the video, and Locascio is seen fleeing on foot, said Kristin McCauley, investigator with the sheriff's office.

After the shooting, Aurora police arrested Locascio about 1 p.m. at the 24 Hour Fitness at 15900 E. Briarwood Circle, just about a mile away from QED, after employees at that business made an unrelated call to police about a man acting suspicious during a gym tour.

Locascio was carrying a black pouch with methamphetamine, a scale, a glass pipe with white residue, cigarettes and nine syringes, Deputy Brian Robinson with the sheriff's office said. A jail inmate later said Locascio was “shooting up” meth three to five times per day over a period of about seven months.

Locascio's defense implied that his alleged shooting of Doe was most likely due to a random act influenced by drug use.

Aurora police and McCauley described Locascio as hot, sweating profusely and more anxious than a person detained by police usually would be. McCauley said Locascio had trouble keeping his eyes open, asked for water, didn't know what day it was and kept saying he wasn't on drugs.

“He said he didn't know where he was or what area he was in,” McCauley said.

Police did not see any blood on Locascio's clothes, face, hands or body and have not found the weapon used to shoot Doe, even after a search of open space and businesses in the area where Locascio went. A sawed-off shotgun was found in Locascio's car, but it was unrelated to the shooting, according to authorities.

The bullet that killed Doe was most likely from a .38-caliber revolver, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation told police Sept. 6.

Police also found a white T-shirt folded underneath a seat in the car similar to what the man in the StorQuest video wore — Locascio was wearing a hoodie when arrested. His tattoo, glasses and bandana matched a witness account of the man running from the crime scene. The white shirt and his bandana did not have blood on them, his defense attorney said.

But in addition to Locascio's DNA being located on a cigarette butt found underneath Doe's body, a bloodhound used by investigators tracked Locascio's scent at QED, at 24 Hour Fitness and a winding trail of places in between.

According to a jail inmate who talked to Locascio, he said the suspect talked about going into the 24 Hour Fitness to leave a gun in the “laundry chute or something like that,” McCauley said.

Four people who said they met Locascio in jail said he admitted to the shooting, according to McCauley.

Locascio told police he had stopped in the area to put transmission fluid in his car, and an empty transmission fluid bottle was found at a parking space where he dropped some items. He parked at 6920 S. Jordan Road a little after 10 a.m., McCauley said. He planned to drive to Illinois, his father told investigators.

Locascio's defense questioned McCauley about a few possible reasons for the shooting. A second inmate said Locascio said he shot Doe over his ex-girlfriend having an affair with him, but McCauley said police couldn't find evidence that she was located in Colorado. Locascio's last address was in Colorado Springs.

The previous inmate spoke of a “meth-induced insanity” Locascio was under and said he believed the shooting was random and that he didn't think Locascio knew he was doing it because he was so high, the defense said.

Police believe that in the QED parking lot right before the shooting, Doe may have taken a plastic bag of marijuana from his own car because the top part of the bag was found next to his body as if it were ripped off. Co-worker Thomas Tallick said he knew Doe to use marijuana, but McCauley acknowledged there isn't evidence suggesting a drug deal other than a third inmate's account who spoke to Locascio.

Phone records showed no correspondence between Doe and Locascio. Police have not “determined any association” between them, McCauley said.

The defense generally argued that the alleged shooting by Locascio was most likely influenced by drug use. McCauley, in response to the prosecution's questions, said Locascio was able to understand her questions and respond to them when she spoke to him shortly after the arrest, that he didn't seem to be hallucinating and that he appeared to make intentional movements and statements. She also said it was possible Locascio could have taken drugs after his alleged shooting.

The hearing will continue when the defense brings the four jail inmates who said they talked to Locascio to testify at 2 p.m. Nov. 17.

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