Surrounded by family and fighting back tears, Gonzalo Zapata expressed grief over the loss of his sister and anger at the man convicted earlier Wednesday afternoon in the death of Angie Zapata, an 18-year-old transgender woman who was bludgeoned to death by Allen Andrade last summer in her Greeley apartment.
In a statement read to the media, Zapata praised Weld County prosecutors for securing first-degree murder and hate-crime convictions against Andrade, 32, who was sentenced Wednesday to life imprisonment without possibility of parole for the murder. He also called on Congress to pass federal hate-crime legislation that would extend protection to gay and transexual victims.
“Throughout the past week and a half, we have watched as our sister Angie was lied about in this court,” Zapata said, his voice hardening. “We watched angrily as the defense presented an image of our sister that wasn’t true.”
Defense attorneys Annette Kundelius and Bradley Martin argued Angie Zapata “deceived” Andrade by failing to reveal she was transgender, a contention the jury rejected and Zapata’s brother slammed. “We know Angie was one thing above all else: honest,” Zapata said. “It took such courage to be who she was. Life wasn’t always easy but she was so strong and there is absolutely no reason to believe my sister was anything but strong and honest with everyone.”
Zapata didn’t refer to Andrade by name once in the statement he read to the press. The family also declined to take questions.
Here’s what Gonzalo Zapata said:
“Angie was my sister. She was a member of our family. We loved her very much and we will miss her every day.
“Every day and every night my mother has to deal with the great pain that she saw one of her babies being buried, an experience no parent should have to witness. Every day my siblings and I reach for the phone and realize we’ll never hear her voice. There are times we call and try to get her advice and realize there’s no answer anymore.
“A part of our family is missing, stolen from us. Angie was 18. Her life was just beginning. Angie was brave, she had guts, had courage, and was beautiful, was fun and loving. She was our little sister.
“Throughout the past week and a half, we have watched as our sister Angie was lied about in this court. We watched angrily as the defense presented an image of our sister that wasn’t true. Their strategy – and make no mistake about it, it was bullying, tearing down my sister to make a monster look a bit better – it will not work.
“We want to make things clear: Angie was our sister, an aunt and a daughter Life was sometimes difficult for her. We learned along with her to understand that she was born a girl with a body that was wrong for her.
We know Angie was one thing above all else: honest. It took such courage to be who she was. Life wasn’t always easy but she was so strong and there is absolutely no reason to believe my sister was anything but strong and honest with everyone.
“This week we are deeply saddened and angry as we witnessed graphic details about the last few minutes of my sister’s life. A big brother’s supposed to protect his –” Zapatasaid, and broke down sobbing as his mother, tears streaming down her face, comforted him. A moment later, he resumed: “I got it,” he said. “A big brother’s supposed to protect his little sister. It breaks my heart to think there was nothing I could do to protect my little sister.
“My sisters, Monica and Ashley, when they saw what this monster had done to her, they wanted to hold her, to comfort her, to make her feel better. It’s hard for them to realize that is nothing they could have done.
“He stole something so precious from us. Only a monster can look at a beautiful 18-year-old and beat her to death. This monster not only hit my sister but continued to beat her head in over and over and over and over again until her head was crushed in. Then he left her there to die. He will never understand how angry we are at him and how much he has hurt us.
“This past week and a half, we’ve seen attorneys working their hardest to seek justice for my sister. Our family wants to thank Robb Miller, Brandi Nieto, Detective Thorpe. Kelly Winters, Kelly Costello [director of victim services at the Colorado Anti-Violence Program], Crystal Middlestadt [director of training and education] of CAVP, Mindy Barton [legal director for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado], and the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, Fred Sainz of the Gill Foundation, and Adam Bass of [the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation], along with the entire Weld County district attorney’s office, and [District Attorney] Ken Buck, for their support of our family and standing with us and standing with Angie.
“We are grateful that Colorado has tough laws that make it clear that attacking someone because of anti-gender bias will be taken seriously. Targeting someone because she is transgender will be prosecuted aggressively in Weld County. This means a lot to our family. We are grateful that the laws are in place that hate crimes are wrong. In memory of Angie, we call on Colorado leaders to pass a federal hate crime law to protect everyone.
“Justice was achieved for my sister today. The message was sent loud and clear that crimes targeting LGBT people will not be tolerated in Colorado, and specifically Weld County.
“We would ask everybody to remember my sister – remember her like we do as a beautiful, wonderful, precious teenager. She would want us to remember the happy times in her life, and, together, and in Angie’s memory, make the world a better place.
“We will always love you, Angie, and we will always miss you, mija.
Read our continuing coverage of the Zapata murder trial.