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Arapaho man sentenced to life imprisonment for murder

A statue of Justice at the Townsend Justice Center seen at Townsend Justice Center in Casper. (Greg Hirst, Oil City)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Francis James Acebo Jr. of Arapaho was recently sentenced to life imprisonment for first-degree murder and causing death with a firearm, followed by a 10-year sentence for discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson imposed the sentence on May 16.

Acebo, 34, was convicted by a federal jury on Feb. 16. The trial lasted five days and was held in Cheyenne before Judge Johnson. The defendant had been indicted by a grand jury and pleaded not guilty to the charges in May 2023.

According to evidence presented at trial and witnesses to the crime, Acebo entered the victim’s Riverton residence in the early morning of Mar. 25, 2023, and shot the victim in the back of the head. He fled the scene and later turned himself in to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office.

“The successful prosecution of homicides and other violent crimes on the Wind River Indian Reservation is one of our highest priorities,” U.S. Attorney Nicholas Vassallo said. “Mr. Acebo’s life sentence is the result of a well-coordinated investigation by the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and this office’s commitment to obtaining a first-degree murder conviction.”

“FBI Denver takes seriously all major crimes on the Wind River Indian Reservation, with murders like this one getting our full attention,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek. “This sentence demonstrates the FBI’s steadfast commitment to working with our tribal partners to solve MMIP cases and promote public safety on reservations across the country.”

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