The fate of Allen Ray Andrade is almost in the hands of jurors. Both sides rested rested in the murder trial of 18-year-old transgender Angie Zapata (pictured, top). Closing arguments proceed today. And then, Andrade’s “peers” will decide whether he’s guilty of first-degree murder, or lesser charges (second-degree murder; second-degree murder, heat of passion; manslaughter; or criminally negligent homicide), or nothing at all (unlikely, given Andrade already admitted to beating Zapata to death … with a fire extinguisher).
“The degree of the crime goes down with each charge,” notes the Greeley Tribune. “If the jury convicts him of a lesser crime, the Weld district attorney plans to introduce habitual offender charges and would be sentenced to four times the sentence he’d receive in the case.”
It’s hard to tell how much the “hate crime” element is playing in the minds of juror. Certainly, Andrade’s defense team had its work cut out for them. When first arrested, Andrade told police, “I thought I killed it.” Yesterday a prison phone call between Andrade (pictured, below) and girlfriend Felicia Mendoza was played in the courtroom, where the defendant “spontaneously” utters, “Gay things need to die.” Another phone call played for jurors was between Andrade and former girlfriend Angie Tyree, where he tells her, “It’s not like I went up to a schoolteacher and shot her in the head … or like I killed a law-abiding straight citizen.”
But then there are witnesses like Andrade’s roommate JJ Alejandro, who said the accused killer absolutely thought Zapata was a woman. The prosecution says Andrade knew of Zapata’s MTF status at least 36 hours before he murdered her; they presented evidence the pair went to a traffic court together nine days prior to the murder, where Zapata was recognized as Justin, her birth name. Andrade’s attorneys say he beat Zapata to death only after discovering she was born a man, and the crime was committed in the heat of the moment.
The Zapata family is expected to make a statement shortly after the verdict is read.
Interested in live coverage of the trial’s finale? The Denver Westwood has a live blog.