After a weeklong trial, Garrett “Ty” Baxstrom was found not guilty Monday of second-degree attempted murder.
Baxstrom, 39, was accused in Montezuma District Court of shooting Kristi Roundtree, his then-common law wife, with a shotgun after an altercation on Aug. 15.
Roundtree, 38, was discovered late that night covered in blood and dirt and with injuries to her face, head, arms and back, according to a report by Montezuma County Sheriff’s Deputy Donnie Brown. She reported that Baxstrom tried to kill her.
Baxstrom was charged with attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault with fists and a shotgun, and child abuse.
After deliberating for more than two hours Monday, the 12 jurors acquitted Baxstrom of all the charges. He was released from the court immediately, and his bond was discharged.
The trial began Monday, July 18 with Judge Todd Plewe presiding. Prosecutors Will Furse and Sean Murray argued on Tuesday, July 19 the trial that there had been a pattern of abuse in the couple’s relationship, and that Baxstrom had gotten drunk and angry with Roundtree and wanted to kill her. They said Baxtrom had the intent to cause Roundtree serious bodily injury, and he supplied himself with everything he needed, including guns and nightvision glasses, to do so.
Baxstrom’s attorney, Christian Hatfield, argued Monday in closing that prosecutors had proven nothing in the attempted-murder trial against his client. He said Baxstrom never tried to kill Roundtree. He refuted prosecutors’ theories, saying his client was not preparing to hunt down his wife and was not drunk and didn’t want to kill anyone. There was no evidence presented to suggest Baxstrom ever fired a gun, he said.
“It’s simply wrong,” Hatfield said of the state’s case.
Hatfield alleged that Roundtree had conspired with a neighbor to frame Baxstrom, planting evidence and shooting herself with a BB gun. He said that was the best explanation that fit the evidence presented in the case.
In closing arguments Monday, Murray said there was overwhelming circumstantial evidence to support the state’s theories. He said it would have had to be the “greatest conspiracy of all time” if Roundtree had attempted to frame Baxstrom.
“Mr. Hatfield has told you a tall tale,” Murray told the jury.
Hatfield and Murray both said the investigation of the crime scene by law enforcement after the incident was poor. Hatfield said investigators never administered gunshot residue tests, which might have determined if anyone involved in the case had fired a gun.
In an email statement, Murray said domestic violence remains a problem in this community, and he was concerned with the implications the verdict may have for victims.
“We can only hope that these victims know that there are people here to help and that we will continue to do everything in our power to protect them and bring their abusers to justice,” he said. “Victims don’t deserve to be abused or blamed by their abusers.”
In testimony Friday, Baxstrom admitted to hitting Roundtree multiple times on Aug. 15 with the intention of knocking her unconscious. That demonstrated intent to cause serious bodily injury to Roundtree, which would justify a guilty verdict for the charge of assault with fists, Murray said.
The defendant testified for more than two hours on Friday. He said he only struck Roundtree in self-defense.
“I value my life,” he said.
He testified that Roundtree hit him in the face with a .22-caliber pistol on Aug. 15, briefly putting him out of consciousness. After coming to his senses, Baxstrom said, he attempted to take the pistol from Roundtree by using a self-defense move designed to break an opponent’s wrist. Failing, he then bit her arm and she dropped the weapon, he said. Baxstrom then pinned down her right arm and hit her about eight times, he said, attempting to knock her out so she would not hurt him.
After the fight, Baxstrom testified, he went inside the cabin to check on his daughter and lost consciousness again. He left the area with his daughter and returned to his home, a trailer on County Road G near Blue Door Pawn, where he worked. At home, he poured himself a whiskey mixed drink and watched a cartoon movie with his daughter, who was 3 years old at the time, he said.
After the movie, Baxstrom said, he took his daughter to the Hartman Draw cabin to look for Roundtree. When officers spotted him there, he said, he ducked into the car to check on his daughter before complying with their instructions. He was then arrested. He said he had not known that police were searching for him.
Roundtree, who had been married to Baxstrom for four years, testified Tuesday, July 19 that on the day of the Aug. 15 shooting, Baxstrom had prepared to move several of her belongings out of the cabin at Hartman Draw. Emotionally upset, she said, she walked away from the cabin down the road with the couple’s daughter in an effort to avoid an argument with Baxstrom. She returned about dusk, and the altercation began, she said.
After apparently being shot, Roundtree rolled down a nearby creek embankment, where she waited for several hours, she said. She then walked to a neighbor’s house, and the neighbor called 911, she said.
Baxstrom testified that he believed Roundtree fabricated or staged being shot with the help of another neighbor. When asked by Murray if he believed Roundtree would have been in the right mind to shoot herself with a shotgun after the couple’s altercation, Baxstrom said, “Yes.”
Roundtree filed for divorce from Baxstrom after the earlier incident in November 2014 and asked for a protection order. However, the couple decided not to divorce and to work things out between them, she said.
At the time of the fight, Roundtree was pregnant with the couple’s second child, which resulted in a miscarriage. Roundtree said that Baxstrom knew she was pregnant.