GREELEY — In an unusually swift decision, a jury on Wednesday afternoon delivered guilty verdicts on all four counts — including first-degree murder and hate-crime charges — filed against a Thornton man accused in the brutal slaying of 18-year-old Angie Zapata, a transgender Greeley woman. The jury reached its decision after less than two hours of deliberation, casting aside defense arguments that Allen Andrade, 32, “snapped” and beat the teen to death with a fire extinguisher after he discovered Zapata was transgender.
Andrade faces a mandatory sentence of life without parole after being convicted on the first-degree murder charge. Prosecutors said Wednesday afternoon they plan to pursue habitual-criminal charges filed earlier this year against Andrade, which could quadruple any sentence. It’s the first time Colorado’s bias-motivated, or hate-crime law has been charged in the murder of a transgender victim.
“This is a confusing case, this is a difficult case,” said public defender Annette Kundelius in closing remarks Wednesday morning, but in the end, and without much difficulty, the jury decided it wasn’t that confusing and agreed with the prosecution.
“It’s about an unreasonable and deep-seated anger [Andrade] unleashed on Angie Zapata on July 16,” said prosecutor Robb Miller in closing statements, “because she was a transgender woman — or a transgender girl, because she was only 18 years old.”
Andrade’s attorneys argued the evidence didn’t show the killer’s intent and asked jurors to find him guilty of one of the lesser-included charges, including manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.
“Hitting someone time after time in the forehead with a fire extinguisher shows exactly what your intent is,” Miller told jurors.
Andrade said “gay things need to die” and said he had “killed it” in tapes of jailhouse phone calls played for jurors earlier this week. Defense attorneys portrayed the calls as “laughing and joking,” arguing that Andrade didn’t really mean what he said and was instead aghast he was jailed for crimes he hadn’t committed.
Led in front of the judge in handcuffs, Andrade glanced at the packed courtroom, filled with roughly 50 spectators, including members of the Zapata and Andrade families, as well as gay-rights and transgender advocates. He made brief eye contact with family members but sat down quickly and stared grimly ahead as the judge read the verdict and then polled the jurors.
The two alternate jurors, who were designated immediately before the jury began deliberations, asked to listen to the verdict over speakerphone.
Before the jury entered, Weld District Judge Marcelo Kopcow urged anyone who might engage in “yelling or screaming” to leave the courtroom before hearing the verdict. When Andrade’s fate became known, a few gasps and muffled sobs erupted from the otherwise quiet crowd.
Read our continuing coverage of the Zapata murder trial.