Baxstrom’s wife, Kristi Roundtree, 38, was discovered late Aug. 15, 2015, 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.
According to prosecutors and to Roundtree’s testimony on Tuesday, Baxstrom shot her with a shotgun after a domestic fight at the cabin near Hartman Draw, southwest of Cortez.
In his opening arguments Tuesday, prosecuting District Attorney Will Furse argued that there had been a pattern of abuse in Baxstrom’s relationship with Roundtree, including an incident in November 2014 when Baxstrom had hit her on the head with a pistol. Before shooting Roundtree on Aug. 15, Furse said, Baxtrom dragged her out of a car and repeatedly hit her.
“There is no doubt Baxstrom wanted to kill her,” Furse said.
Defense attorney Christian Hatfield argued in opening statements Tuesday that Baxstrom acted in self-defense after Roundtree hit him in the face with a .22-caliber pistol.
“Ty’s story is simple,” Hatfield said. “He acted in self-defense and did nothing wrong.”
Shotgun shells found at the scene don’t match Baxstrom’s guns, Hatfield said. He was not drunk, and he was cooperative with officers who responded to the scene, he said.
Baxstrom testified for more than two hours on Friday. He said he never struck her, except in self-defense.
“I value my life,” he said.
He testified that Roundtree hit him in the face with a 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 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 3-year-old 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.
A jury was seated Monday after a full-day selection process, and testimony continued through the week. District Court Judge Todd Plewe is presiding over the case. District Attorney Furse and assistant DA Sean Murray are prosecuting the case, and defense attorney Hatfield is representing Baxstrom.
Baxstrom was the final witness to testify in the trial, which broke for the weekend at 2:30 p.m. Friday. The attorneys will present closing statements Monday morning, after which the jury will begin deliberating.