Jury deliberates only 2 hours before rejecting Andrade’s ‘trans panic’ defense; conviction carries mandatory sentence of life without parole
GREELEY, Colo. — A man who claimed he snapped before killing a transgender woman was swiftly convicted of first-degree murder and a hate crime Wednesday, April 22 for savagely beating the woman with a fire extinguisher.
Allen Andrade, 32, of Thornton, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after being convicted of killing Angie Zapata, 18. The jury deliberated for just two hours before finding Andrade guilty.
In handing down the sentence, District Judge Marcelo Kopcow said he hoped Andrade thinks "about the violence and the brutality … and the pain you caused not only your family, but the family of Angie Zapata."
The case was believed to be the first prosecution under Colorado’s bias-crime statute for a crime involving a transgender person. Gay rights activists hope publicity from the case would pressure Congress to add sexual orientation and gender identity to a federal hate crime law.
Prosecutors had argued Andrade knew for hours that Zapata was biologically male and beat her to death because he disliked gays. They said Andrade had attended a court hearing with Zapata where court officials used her legal name, Justin.
Witnesses also testified that when Zapata spoke, she sounded like a man trying to disguise his voice.
Andrade’s attorney didn’t deny that he killed Zapata, but said he had just learned Zapata’s identity after spending hours with her and he lashed out without thinking. Defense attorney Annette Kundelius said Andrade and Zapata agreed to meet for sex after Zapata deceptively described herself as a straight female.
"This is not something that people plan for," she told jurors. "This isn’t a situation where people know how they would act."
During the trial, prosecutors played recorded jail conversations where Andrade referred to Zapata as "it" and said it wasn’t as if he "killed a straight, law-abiding citizen."
"His own statements in the jail call betray the way he values Angie’s life, the way he thought of her as less than, less than us because of who she was," Chief Deputy District Attorney Robb Miller told jurors.
"Everyone deserves equal protection under the law and no one deserves to die like this," Miller said.
Kundelius said Andrade’s statements were jokes made by a man who knew he was innocent.
"Was it in poor taste, was it a smart thing to say?" Kundelius asked jurors. "No. But it doesn’t mean he committed murder."
Maria Zapata, the victim’s mother, called the murder "a selfish act" by Andrade.
"But something that he can never take away is the love and the memories I have of my baby, my beautiful, beautiful baby," she told the court before the sentencing.
Andrade’s sister, Christina Cruz, said her family was "not supporting the outcome, but we do support him as my brother."