The first-degree murder trial of the
man accused of killing a transgender woman last July opened Thursday
with the jury being shown gruesome photos of the victim's beaten body
laying in her apartment next to a bare twin mattress, reports the
Angie Zapata was eighteen when she met
Allen Ray Andrade, 31, on an Internet dating site. On July 14, 2008,
she borrowed her sister's PT Cruiser and traveled more than 50 miles
to pick up Andrade and bring him to her tiny Greeley, Colorado
apartment, where the pair shared several days together.
Andrade has confessed to killing
Zapata, formerly known as Justin Zapata, in a fit of rage when he
confronted her about her sexuality. He beat her first with his fists
and then with a fire extinguisher and beat her a second time when he
realized she wasn't quite dead, police allege.
Defense attorney Bradley Martin claims
Andrade killed because he was “deceived.”
“This is not about judgment of
lifestyle,” Martin said in opening remarks. “This case is about
a deception and the reaction to that deception.”
Prosecutors disagree; they contend
Andrade knew Zapata was transgender and that the murder was
“This was not a snap decision,”
Prosecutor Brandi Nieto told jurors. “The defendant knew for
approximately 36 hours that Angie was biologically male.”
Zapata self-identified as a woman as
early as 2004, jurors learned. Nieto told jurors that the day before
she was killed, Andrade accompanied Zapata to municipal court to
respond to a traffic ticket issued under the name Justin Zapata.
And, Nieto said, if Andrade didn't know before then that Zapata was
transgender, then he certainly found out at the courthouse.
At issue in the Zapata trial is just
that: When did Andrade know Zapata was biologically male? The
defense concedes Andrade is the killer and that he was motivated by
hate but premeditated murder would land Andrade in jail for life
versus a lesser sentence of possibly 25 years.
Andrade is also charged with a hate
crime. It is the first Colorado case to use the state's gender
identity hate crime law, which adds an additional 18 months to a
conviction. Sexual orientation and transgender protections were
added to an existing law in 2005.
Along with pictures on a television
screen of the dead victim, jurors also viewed the murder scene:
Zapata laying face up in her apartment living room, dressed in black
pants and a white shirt; a photo of four forty-ounce Budwiser
bottles, stacked neatly in the sink; another of a bottle of rum and a
bottle of vodka on top the fridge; and a blood-stained blanket and a
pink vibrator on the floor next to Zapata's bludgeoned body. Each
photo gives rise to more questions than answers.
Nine witnesses have testified so far,
including the officers who arrested Andrade sitting in the PT Cruiser
Zapata had borrowed from her sister two weeks earlier.
The trial is expected to last another