A Colorado man suspected of killing a man who had been living as a woman told investigators his victim survived two blows to the head with a fire extinguisher and was struggling to sit up when he struck her again.
Allen Ray Andrade, 31, faces several charges, including second-degree murder in the death of Justin Zapata, 20, who was known as Angie Zapata. Her bloodied, battered body was discovered in her apartment by her sister on July 17.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck said he was considering filing first-degree murder charges and may prosecute the death as a hate crime, which adds another felony charge. Hate crimes are those committed based on a person's race, religion or sexual orientation.
"Angie, she was a fun-loving young woman who was taken from us far too early," said Crystal Middlestadt, director of training and education for the Colorado Anti-Violence Program. Middlestadt is working with Zapata's family.
The Colorado Anti-Violence Program condemned the crime as possibly motivated by an anti-transgender bias.
Zapata's sister, Monica, was quoted in a press release from the Colorado Anti-Violence Program as saying, We want to let everyone be aware that all she wanted was to be beautiful. We want this violence to end. Transgender people deserve to be treated with respect."
Andrade was arrested in the Denver suburb of Thornton, where he lives. Police responding to a noise complaint said they found him in Zapata's 2003 PT Cruiser, which had been missing.
Andrade told investigators that he met Zapata through MocoSpace, a social networking Web site, and that they agreed to get together after exchanging contact over several days, according to an arrest affidavit released by Greeley police. The two met July 15 and spent the day together.
Andrade told investigators that Zapata performed oral sex on him but wouldn't let him touch her, according to the affidavit.
He said he also spent the night at Zapata's apartment, but in separate beds. The next day, Zapata left Andrade alone in her apartment, and Andrade noticed several photographs that led him to question Zapata's gender.
Andrade confronted Zapata when she got back. Zapata answered: "I am all woman."
He grabbed Zapata's crotch area, felt male genitalia and became angry, the affidavit states. He took a fire extinguisher off a shelf and struck Zapata twice in the head, telling investigators he thought he "killed it."
"It's disgusting," Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner said of Andrade's reference to Zapata. "It's a horrible thing to say."
Added Middlestadt: "He could be speaking to the fact that he couldn't see Angie as a person."
Andrade told investigators he covered Zapata with a blanket and started gathering evidence he thought might link him to the crime when he heard gurgling sounds and noticed Zapata was sitting up. That's when he picked up the fire extinguisher and hit her again, police said. He left the apartment and took her car, he said.
Garner said police believe Andrade acted alone but that the investigation was continuing. Both he and Buck said the slaying appeared to be an isolated case in Greeley, 50 miles north of Denver.
"Greeley is a very tolerant community, very sensitive to diversity," the police chief said.
Middlestadt said gay, lesbian and transgendered bias crimes happen on a daily basis nationwide, with 19 slayings reported to groups like hers last year.
"It's not an unusual incident," she said.
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