DENVER, COLORADO: Authorities in Denver have arrested a person of interest three years after he allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend’s lover, an aspiring musician beloved by his family and bandmates.
Patrick Lee Apostol is accused of fatally shooting 31-year-old Zackary Smith. According to Denver Police, he was arrested Friday, Nov. 17, on charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence. Smith was shot in the back of the head as he walked away after he and Apostol’s girlfriend had sex outside their home, police said.
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When were authorities informed of the incident involving Patrick Lee Apostol?
On September 10, 2020, police responded shortly before 4 a.m. to a ShotSpotter alert on the city’s east side. When they arrived, they discovered an overturned car in an alley with a man, later identified as Smith, in the driver’s seat with a gunshot wound to the head.
Paramedics immediately took him to a nearby medical facility where he was later pronounced dead. A bullet had entered the rear window of the car and struck Smith. Investigators recovered a single 9mm bullet casing from the alley.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Apostol and his girlfriend attempted to cover up the murder. However, the defendant’s girlfriend has not been charged with any crime.
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Following the shooting, detectives received information from a man that Apostol’s girlfriend and Smith had an “intimate relationship” and that the only time he could see her was when “Apostol was not not in town.”
The confidant also informed officers that Apostol and his girlfriend lived just outside the alley where Smith was shot, according to the affidavit. When investigators first questioned Apostol, he was wearing a black dress. It also had ring cameras that provided a perfect view and would have captured the shot.
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But after authorities obtained the videos, footage at the time of the shooting was missing. It appeared someone had deleted the images, detectives concluded.
What did Patrick Lee Apostol’s girlfriend tell authorities?
In an interview with detectives on September 21, 2020, the girlfriend said she and Smith had known each other for approximately nine years and would “flirt sometimes” but denied having a sexual relationship. She admitted that Smith texted her the night of the murder and asked her out.
She said he came between 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. He came and parked in the alley and she came out to greet him. Apostol was asleep and didn’t know Smith was coming, she allegedly told detectives. She claimed they sat in the car for about 15 or 20 minutes, he left and she went inside to finish laundry for an upcoming trip, the affidavit states.
The girlfriend also told detectives that the day after the murder she had to factory reset her phone because it was not working properly. Detectives seized his phone but found nothing useful. Detectives later determined she likely deleted the data from her phone to get rid of the text messages, the affidavit states.
What did authorities find at Patrick Lee Apostol’s home?
A search of Apostol’s home on the same day as the interview with his girlfriend proved fruitful. Her dress was seized and tested positive for gunshot residue, according to the affidavit. Investigators found two 9mm gun cases, the same caliber used in the murder, but one of them was empty.
Although detectives lacked sufficient evidence to arrest Apostol, court documents indicate federal authorities arrested him for possession of illegal firearms and drug distribution. He pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to five years in prison. He was released in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Investigators decided to re-examine the phone of Patrick Lee Apostol and his girlfriend
In July of this year, investigators decided to re-examine the cell phones of Apostol, his girlfriend and Smith, believing that technology had advanced enough in the three years since the shooting that they could possibly be extracting more information and, fortunately, it helped them make a breakthrough in the case.
They were able to access Smith’s phone, which revealed eight months of text messages between him and his lover up to the night of the murder, showing he had met her for “drugs and sex” in her car in the alley . where he was later found dead, the affidavit states.
An analysis of Apostol’s phone also showed that he deleted all communication between him and his girlfriend about a half-hour after the killing, according to the affidavit. The informants also told cops that Apostol owned an all-white 9mm handgun, the one in the missing holster.
Lab technicians analyzed the bullet recovered from Smith’s head and determined it came from the same firearm Apostol allegedly owned, although the murder weapon was never found.
Investigators were able to obtain a warrant to obtain the girlfriend’s DNA as well as additional information from the cell phones. In August, female DNA found in Smith’s underwear was determined to match that of Apostol’s girlfriend. Prosecutors determined there was now enough evidence to arrest Apostol. He is in jail without bail.
What did Zackary Smith’s father say?
Smith’s death completely devastated his father. His father, Scot Smith, told KDVR, a local Fox affiliate, that the family moved to Denver in 2002. The younger Smith loved living in the Mile High City and ingrained himself in the music scene. He played guitar for the electric dance music group Autonomix.
“He was very talented. The first CD he made, he was only 24 or 25 and the music was incredible,” his father said, adding: “To think he did that at such a young age still blows my mind. »
His bandmate Josh Nermon told NBC affiliate KUSA that the two were writing a song together just hours before his death. Nermon said the two had great chemistry when it came to making music.
“It’s something that doesn’t happen very often when two or more musicians are so much on the same page and complement each other in a very supportive and unique way that gets the best out of each other without it being competitive,” says Nermon.
“We had a lot more fun than a lot of other bands, I’ll tell you that and it was contagious like people saw us smiling, we took risks together, we just had fun and we tried to make it share with others,” he said. added.
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