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 Colorado Independent.

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 premeditated.

“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 week.