Florence woman says uncle threatened to kill her before fiancé fatally shot him The Denver Post

The niece of the Florence man killed in July 2020 said her uncle had threatened to kill her and was coming at her when he was fatally shot in his home.

Danylle Shatto said John Achterkirch, 64, had just assaulted her fiancé, Mark Nielsen, when Achterkirch began approaching her, which led to Nielsen shooting him in the head.

Nielsen, 58, is charged with second-degree murder, a Class 2 felony, for shooting Achterkirch on July 28, 2020.

Shatto lived in Achterkirch’s home for about three years before the shooting and had planned to continue to live there.

“By that time, I had been paying rent and bills,” she told the jury Thursday. “We were in discussions about purchasing the home.”

Achterkirch was in the process of moving back into the house and had recently moved in his 41-year-old stepdaughter, Joleigha Johnson, as well.

Shatto said Johnson had taken money and cigarettes from her, and she had found syringes in the home after Johnson moved in. She said Johnson had tried to steal Achterkirch’s truck the day of the shooting. After calling law enforcement, Johnson was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

She told her uncle that Johnson had been arrested and he texted her telling her to get out of his house. By the time he arrived home from work at about 9:51 p.m., he was angry, she said.

“He threw open the storm door and came in and said he was going to kill us,” she said.

She and her uncle started to argue about him wanting her out of the house. Nielsen, who was standing behind the bar, told Achterkirch they should talk about it.

“John came over and knocked Mark’s head on the bar, he fell backward, John walked away, looked up and came at me and said, ‘I am going to (expletive) kill you,’” she said. “The next thing I know I heard a bang and saw my uncle fall to the ground.”

Charles Ahart, who lived across the alley from Achterkirch, said the night of the incident he heard a lot of yelling when he was sitting on his back porch.

“It appeared to me to be male and female (voices),” he said. “After 10 minutes, I heard a gunshot and then it got really quiet. I sat there for four or five minutes trying to decide whether I should call the police department or not. I just got up to call and I heard a siren coming.”

Judy Jobe, a friend of Shatto’s parents, went to the residence a couple of weeks after the homicide when her boyfriend was asked to look at a potential roof repair.

While inside the house, she said Nielsen told her about the shooting.

“He said, ‘You heard about the mess that took place here?’ and proceeded to tell me how it happened,” she said. “…He said that he had shot John and it was a good thing he landed in the dog bed so he didn’t have to clean up the mess.”

Jobe said she didn’t sense any remorse or sorrow in his demeanor.

“I was kind of surprised at that,” she said. “My boyfriend came back in the house and he proceeded to tell him about it.”

Defense: Florence man was defending himself, fiancé when he shot victim

Dr. Emily Russell, the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for the El Paso County Coroner’s Office, testified Thursday that the bullet entered Achterkirch’s left facial cheek and traveled from front to back, left to right and slightly downward. The bullet did not exit the skull, and she can’t determine if he was standing or not at the time he was shot. The length from the tip of the gun to Achterkirch’s skin is estimated to be between about six inches to about two-and-a-half feet.

Toxicology reports showed low levels of methamphetamine and THC in his system.

Achterkirch’s coworkers from Courtesy Plumbing and Heating in Castle Rock testified that they didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary the day he died. They described him as “pretty soft-spoken and mellow” and well-liked by customers.

The last thing that Laura Rodriguez said to him was that she would have his coffee pot ready for him the next day.

“He said, ‘yes, ma’am,’” she said. “It was typical John – very nice, very kind, very composed, a kind soul. A very kind soul.”

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