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A Colorado man shot his wife, then stuffed her body into the garbage can in the garage before returning to the couple’s children.
Keith Allen Zotto, 46, was found guilty Tuesday by an Arapahoe County jury of first-degree murder in the death of his wife Amber Zotto, 35, who was found “covered in debris” in a trash can at the family’s home in 2019, according to a statement from 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
“He literally threw her away and left her to rot,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Laura Wilson said during closing arguments. “When you take a gun and point it at someone’s head … you know what happens when you pull that trigger. Amber begged for her life, she put up her hands, but he pulled the trigger.”
The body was discovered after Amber’s mother contacted Aurora Police on July 2, 2019 to report that she hadn’t been able to reach her daughter and was concerned she might be missing, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Police went to the family’s home and spoke with the couple’s two children, who told officers that they hadn’t seen their mom for several days.
Keith, who had been working as a plumber, told authorities that he and Amber had gotten into an argument about money and a suspected affair he thought she was having with a man named “JT.” The next morning, he told police she was gone, but had left behind a suicide note.
However, police would later find her body in the garbage can in the garage, covered in debris and next to a handgun. The trash can lid and a nearby wall in the garage were spattered with blood.
Keith told police it was “possible” he had hurt his wife, but said he didn’t remember because he had been drinking so heavily that he had blacked out, according to the affidavit.
The couple allegedly had a “lengthy history of disputes and alcoholism,” and Keith admitted he'd been physically abusive in the past, authorities said.
Keith allegedly provided several versions of what happened during the fatal fight to multiple witnesses.
Keith’s sister called police on July 2, 2019 to report that her brother confided in her that he had shot his wife in the face after Amber had pulled the gun during a fight, according to the report. He told his sister that he had grabbed the gun and then shot Amber.
Another witness told authorities that Keith said he had pointed the gun at Amber during the fight and she had put her hands up and pleaded “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” before he fired the weapon.
Investigators took Keith into custody a short time later at his home and charged him with the murder.
“Absolutely this was the right outcome in this case,” District Attorney John Kellner said in the statement. “This man had no regard for human life, even when it was his wife and the mother of his children. He stayed in that house with those kids, knowing their mother was dead in the garage. And rather than take responsibility, he tried to pretend his wife committed suicide and he somehow panicked, hid the bod and then forgot what he had done.”
The mandatory sentence for first-degree murder in Colorado is life in prison without the possibility of parole. Zotto is set to be formally sentenced on July 19.
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