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Friend remembers man killed in 2020 homicide

A suspect was arrested this month in connection with the September 2020 death of Zackary Smith.

DENVER — Denver Police have made an arrest in a 2020 homicide. Patrick Lee Apostol, 45, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 31-year-old Zackary Smith. 

On Sept. 10, 2020, police responded to a crash near North Quebec Street and North Quince Street. Smith was found in the car. Police said he had been shot in the head. 

"I had to watch him die in the hospital, and that's tough," his best friend Josh Nermon said via Zoom from Texas. "He loved to play music. He loved to be on stage. Him and I had a very special bond, and you know when he died it kind of felt like Paul losing his John."

Credit: Josh Nermon
Zack Smith and Josh Nermon

According to arrest documents, in the hours following the shooting, detectives started to talk to people who lived in the area, searching for security footage. That is when they met Apostol, who said his Ring cameras weren't working. Investigators later found they were, and four videos from around the time of the shooting had been deleted. 

After getting a search warrant, authorities found a gun and paperwork for another, a "whiteout" 9mm handgun the same caliber as the spent casing found in the alley. According to documents, police believe this was the murder weapon. That weapon wasn't found, but authorities learned Smith had a relationship with someone who lived with Apostol, and a community tip helped detectives identify Apostol as the suspect. 

"It was great news. I was very, very happy," Nermon said. "It's just a matter of time before, you know, karma comes full circle." 

Nermon knows this news won't bring his best friend back, but he hopes it reminds people to slow down and cherish those special moments with unforgettable people. 

"We lost a very deep soul and someone who brought a lot of joy to a lot of people," he said. "If we could live out just a little bit of what his truth was and what his level of enlightenment was before he got taken from us, I think that’s the best way to credit his life." 

Nermon said the night Smith died they were working on a song together. He said he has not looked at that song since, but after hearing about the arrest he's decided to finish it soon.

RELATED: After more than three years, police arrest suspect in Denver homicide case

From March: $20,000 reward offered in 2020 cold case that killed local musician


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