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Denver police make arrest in cold case homicide of local guitar player

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Posted at 6:18 PM, Nov 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-17 20:21:16-05

DENVER — More than three years after a local guitarist was found shot and killed in Denver, police announced an arrest in the cold case on Friday.

On Friday afternoon, the Denver Police Department said they had arrested Patrick Lee Apostol, 45, in connection with the homicide of Zackary Smith on Sept. 10, 2020.

Around 3:55 a.m. that morning, police responded to the area of E. 17th Avenue and Quince Street after receiving a report of shots fired via a ShotSpotter device. At the scene, police found a crashed Subaru Crosstrek, which had rolled over in the Quebec Street and Quince Street alley, according to Apostol's arrest warrant.

The driver, who had been shot in the head, was transported to a hospital where he died that evening. He was later identified as Smith.

Smith was a guitar player and member of Autonomix, a local four-piece band.

At the scene, police found one spent 9mm cartridge casing. Around 6:20 a.m., police went up to a nearby home to see if it had video surveillance that might include the crash. Apostol answered the door, according to the arrest warrant. Because of redactions in the document, it was not clear if Apostol provided any footage, however the document does say that they were told the Ring video surveillance did not work. Investigators later determined that somebody appeared to have deleted some videos from a separate surveillance camera on the property, the arrest warrant reads.

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When the officers talked with Apostol at the home that night, he was wearing a black robe that would later test positive for gunshot residue, according to the document.

On Sept. 21, 2020, he voluntarily went to the police department for an interview, which is redacted in the document.

That same day, a judge signed a search warrant and Apostol's home was searched by authorities, who found firearms and accessories, some of which were illegal, according to the arrest warrant.

In March 2023, the reward for information on this case increased to $20,000. In the fall, the cell phone records for Smith, Apostol and an unknown person were re-analyzed with new technology, the arrest warrants reads. Much of this was redacted.

Apostol was taken into custody on Friday in Lakewood and is being held for investigation of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

The police department thanked its homicide investigators and a tip from the community, which led to Apostol's arrest.

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