Federal jury finds Acebo ‘guilty’ of first-degree murder after weeklong trial

    All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

    (Fremont County, WY) – A jury of 14 has found Fremont County man Francis James Acebo “guilty” of the March 25, 2023 murder of Derek Redstar Pappan, according to federal Court documents filed on February 20, 2024, as well as a press release issued by the Department Of Justice on the same date.

    The jury trial began on February 12, concluded at 9:16 PM on February 16, and was overseen by the Honorable Judge Alan B. Johnson.


    Special agents with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the FBI investigated this crime, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kerry Jacobsen and T.J. Forwood prosecuted the case.

    Acebo was ultimately convicted of first-degree murder and using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

    According to the original federal complaint, a subject who was with Pappan in his Riverton home on the morning of the homicide told investigators that while they were looking for a phone charger, Acebo entered the residence and “immediately” shot Pappan in the back of the head.

    Acebo pled not guilty to the charges back in May of 2023, and his subsequent jury trial was rescheduled and continued multiple times due to the “complex” nature of the investigation, most recently through an “ends of justice continuance.”


    (This type of a continuance is a provision that allows district courts to continue trial and exclude delay from the speedy trial calculation “if the Court finds that the ends of justice served by granting the continuance outweigh the public’s and defendant’s interest in a speedy trial.”)

    Acebo faces a mandatory life sentence for the first-degree murder conviction, another 10 years to life imprisonment for the firearm offense, and up to $500,000 in fines, according to the DOJ release.

    A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for May 6, 2024.


    County 10 will provide updates on the case, which can be found here.


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