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Man pleads not guilty to Riverton homicide in federal court

A federal courtroom at the Ewing T. Kerr Federal Building and Courthouse in Casper (Gregory Hirst, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — A Riverton man has pleaded not guilty in federal court to the murder of Derek Redstar Pappan, which occurred in the early morning hours of March 25, 2023. 

Court records show Francis James Acebo Jr., 33, entered his plea before U.S. Judge Michael Shickich at the Ewing T. Kerr Federal Building and Courthouse in Casper on Wednesday.

According to the federal complaint, a woman was with Pappan in his Riverton home on the morning of the homicide. She told investigators that she and Pappan had been looking for a phone charger when Acebo Jr. entered the residence and “immediately” shot Pappan in the back of the head.

Acebo Jr. was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, resulting in death.

The mandatory minimum sentence for first-degree murder in federal statute is life in prison.

Acebo Jr. is presumed innocent until proven or pleading guilty.

The crime occurred within the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Acebo Jr., an enrolled member of the Northern Arapahoe Tribe, remains in the custody of U.S. Marshals.