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Jury trial begins for La Plata County man suspected of murder

Nicolo ‘Nico’ Tonelli is accused of fatally shooting his close friend Jamison ‘Jmoe’ McMaster after contentious night
Jamison McMaster recorded a video on Instagram Live on the morning prior to his shooting death. The video shows a cut on his forehead, apparently caused after being hit by a rock. (Screenshot)

Jury selection began Thursday in the trial for a La Plata County man accused of killing his friend after a contentious night of infighting between them southwest of Durango.

Nicolo “Nico” Tonelli, 26, is charged with second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and tampering with a corpse.

He faces 16 to 48 years in prison if found guilty of second-degree murder.

Tonelli is accused of shooting and killing Jamison “Jmoe” McMaster, 27, on Nov. 22, 2021, in the 700 block of Dream Catcher Lane in southwest La Plata County, according to court records.

Tonelli told detectives that he and McMaster were close friends – like “brothers.” But it was a contentious friendship in which they physically fought on numerous occasions.


Prior to the shooting, Tonelli allegedly smashed McMaster’s forehead with a rock.

McMaster recorded a nine-minute Instagram video the morning before he was shot. In it, McMaster has a large gash on his forehead with dried blood.

“Nico smashed my head with a rock last night,” he told his live followers.

He then puts the camera on Tonelli, who looks downcast and annoyed. Tonelli knocks McMaster’s phone out of his hand. McMaster picks it up and tells his viewers that Tonelli cracked his phone screen.

McMaster then puts the camera on another man who he identifies as “Willie T.” McMaster asks Willie T where the weed is.

“Please leave me alone. You’re being a bully,” the man responds. “I’m not trying to be a bully,” McMaster says.

McMaster then puts the camera on a third man, who also appears to be annoyed with McMaster. They have a brief exchange, and McMaster again asks about the whereabouts of his “weed.”

Later that day, Tonelli allegedly armed himself with a handgun and shot McMaster in the torso.

“A gunshot wound was visible on McMaster’s left mid-back,” according to the affidavit.

Tonelli told investigators he shot toward the ground, but acknowledged the bullet obviously did not hit the ground. He also made a spontaneous utterance that it had been in self-defense, according to the affidavit.

He told investigators that immediately after the shooting, he panicked and thought about fleeing the area. He never called law enforcement about the shooting. Instead, a property owner notified police.

Tonelli is suspected of moving McMaster’s lifeless body into a Dodge Durango, where investigators found it lying face down with feet hanging out of the vehicle, according to an arrest affidavit.

Tonelli is also suspected of removing a digital-video recorder that was attached to a security camera at the house, according to the affidavit.

Tonelli appeared Thursday in 6th Judicial District Court in Durango with his public defenders, Kristen Hindman and Nick Kreider of Montrose.

The case is being prosecuted by deputy district attorneys Justin Pierce and Vance Davis.

District Judge Suzanne Carlson is overseeing the case.

Lawyers were working Thursday to seat a 14-person jury, including two alternates. The trial is expected to last up to three weeks. Opening statements could occur as soon as Friday morning.


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