Daniel Abeyta Killed Neighbor, Shot Wife's Feet, but Is Convicted on Lesser Charges

It was among the most shocking incidents of 2013, involving murder in broad daylight, shotgunned feet and an alleged attempt to cause an explosion.

The terror only ended after the suspect, Daniel Abeyta, was shot by cops who'd responded to the scene — and whose actions were deemed justified.

Nearly two years later, Abeyta has been convicted of killing a neighbor, Sandra Roskilly, and injuring his wife, Autume Estrada. But the jury in the case found him guilty of lesser charges than prosecutors had sought.

A great deal of documentation has been released about what took place, much of it shared here. This post features the original probable cause statement and a shooting decision letter assembled by the Denver District Attorney's Office — it was far less controversial than the one pertaining to the Jessie Hernandez shooting — with the latter including a slew of photos from the scene.

But arguably the most poignant images are the photos of Roskilly, 47, a friend of Estrada's who was essentially an innocent bystander to the mayhem

Two years later, her Facebook page remains online, and as we reported, the contents make it clear that she loved her son, her brother, Dennis Campbell, and his kin. She also had a soft spot for dogs, as is clear from this photo.

The pic above is from a couple of years prior to the incident, as is this one:

But earlier in 2013, she underwent a personal transformation. The following image was shared on August 4 of that year along with the caption, "Sandra Roskilly celebrating 200 pound weight loss at Pat Benatar Concert:"

But celebrations of her achievement were replaced by mourning on August 16. At 10:51 a.m. that day, according to the decision letter, Abeyta's wife, Autume Marie Estrada, dialed 911. The call lasted for more than twenty minutes, with the key information recorded as follows:

What happened? Autume told the dispatcher that her husband had fired a shotgun at her feet from what the report characterizes as "a short distance away, causing massive trauma to both lower extremities."

Around the same time, another 911 call came in, this time from someone who'd been driving near the scene, at 2265 South Irving Street. The man said he'd seen someone later identified as Abeyta "setting a propane tank in the middle of the road. And there was like two, he had like two [inaudible] rifles — I don't know if they were real or play but he's setting a propane tank in the middle of the road...."

Another witness told investigators she'd seen Abeya standing in front of Roskilly's house pointing and firing a pistol — presumably the fatal shot. Afterward, those who knew Roskilly speculated that she'd been trying to come to the aid of Autume, who she'd befriended, when Abeyta killed her.

Afterward, the witness says Abeyta, who is said to have had two additional guns strapped to him, grabbed a bag from one of his vehicles — presumably one containing ammunition that's depicted in photos accompanying the decision letter. He also allegedly shot at the propane tank, causing it to fly down the street.

By that point, police were either arriving on the scene or on the way, and they soon discovered an additional complication: Autume's seven-year-old daughter was also present and reacting with understandable hysterics. During the 911 call, the letter notes the girl screaming "Mom!" and "Mommy!" as Autume struggled to maintain consciousness.

Meanwhile, numerous people saw Abeyta in the street. Among other things, he's quoted as declaring, "I didn't do anything!"

The cops quickly began establishing a perimeter and got out their long guns — necessary because they needed to maintain distance between them and Abeyta due to the abundant weaponry on display. Here's the report's inventory of his arsenal:
Abetya was armed with a Savage 30-06 rifle, mounted on a tripod, a 12 gauge shotgun with a drum magazine attached, and a 9mm handgun. He also had a black bag in which were two boxes of ammunition for the 30-06 rifle; 12 boxes of 9mm handgun ammunition; three boxes of 12 gauge ammunition and a 20 round shotgun drum magazine.

The 30-06 rifle has a four round magazine capacity and Abeyta's rifle had an ammunition holder on the stock loaded with additional rounds. When Denver police firearms examined the rifle, it was found to have a round in the chamber and two rounds in the magazine; his 9mm handgun contained one live round in the chamber and seven rounds in the magazine. The shotgun found to have one live round in the chamber and 18 rounds in the drum.

Another reason for concern was a warning forwarded by the 911 dispatcher on the line with Autume. In her words, Autume's daughter claimed Abeyta "said he wanted to have a shoot-out with officers."

As Abeyta shot at the propane tank, the report says Denver Police Department Sergeant Jerry Heimbigner was in position, taking cover behind a nearby truck. One supervisor told Heimbigner, "if it's necessary, take him out."

Moments later, another sergeant acting as a spotter told Heimbigner, "Take the shot," and he did.

The next bit of police-radio chatter: "Party's down! Party's down! We're moving up, we're moving up. Party took one shot."

Shortly thereafter, Abeyta was rushed to Denver Health for a "gunshot wound to the chest with pulmonary contusion and rib fractures."

He was in critical condition upon his arrival, but he survived to face a litany of accusations.

They included charges of first-degree murder for killing Rosskilly, first-degree assault for wounding Atume, use of explosives or incendiary devices during the commission of a crime and child abuse.

In the end, however, the jury in the case wasn't quite as harsh as the DA's office had hoped. The first-degree assault and child abuse beefs held up. However, Abeyta was found guilty of second-degree murder in Roskilly's death, not first-degree, and he wasn't convicted of any explosives-related offenses.

How much time will Abeyta receive? He'll find out during a sentencing hearing set for July 27. Meanwhile, he remains in custody at the Denver Detention Center.

Look below to see a full-size version of Abeyta's booking photo, a 7News report broadcast in the immediate aftermath of the crime, the probable cause statement and the shooting decision letter.

Daniel Abeyta Probable Cause Statement

Daniel Abeyta Shooting Decision Letter

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts