Riverton Man Convicted Of Breaking Into Home, Shooting Man In Back Of The Head  

A Riverton man who broke into another man’s home and killed him by shooting him in the back of the head was convicted of first-degree murder, the U.S. Attorney for Wyoming announced Tuesday. He faces mandatory life in prison.

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Clair McFarland

February 20, 20242 min read

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A federal jury has convicted a Riverton man accused of shooting another man in his own home while the latter fumbled sleepily for a phone charger.

The jury convicted Francis James Acebo Jr., 34, of first-degree murder following a five-day trial in Cheyenne, the U.S. Attorney for Wyoming said in a Tuesday statement.

U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson presided over the trial, which stems from Acebo’s March 2023 grand-jury indictment.

Acebo had shot and killed Derek Redstar Pappan, 44, in a single-wide trailer south of Riverton on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Acebo charged into Pappan’s home early March 25 and shot Pappan in the back of his head, according to a criminal complaint filed early in his case.

Pappan was in his own home that morning along with at least four other people.

Pappan and the female with whom he shared his bedroom drifted from their room to the living room at about 5:30 that morning looking for a cellphone charger, says the complaint.

As Pappan bent over a mattress to search, the witness watched as Acebo entered the home, “immediately” approached Pappan from behind and shot him in the back of the head.

Acebo then fled.

Turned Himself In

Another person whose name was redacted from court documents heard that Acebo had shot someone, so that person picked up Acebo from Acebo’s home, which was near the crime scene.

The driver took Acebo to where Acebo’s children lived so Acebo could tell the children goodbye, says the complaint.

The driver then dropped Acebo off at a home on Airport Road, west of Riverton.

Acebo turned himself in to law enforcement five days after killing Pappan.

Sentencing Set For May

Acebo’s sentencing hearing is set for May 6. He faces a mandatory life sentence for the first-degree murder charge and another possible 10 years in prison for a firearm offense for which the jury also convicted him, plus up to $500,000 in fines, says the statement.

Special agents with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the FBI investigated the crime, which happened just beyond Riverton’s southern border, on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kerry Jacobsen and TJ Forwood prosecuted the case.

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter