Transgender Slaying Trial Under Way With Opening Statements

Allen Andrade Charged In Hate-Crime Slaying Of Angie Zapata

Opening statements began Thursday afternoon in the trial of a Thornton man accused in the July slaying of a transgender teen.

Attorneys finished choosing a jury just before noon and opening statements began just before 2:15 p.m.

Allen Andrade, 32, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Angie Zapata.

Andrade was arrested in Thornton, where he lived, about two weeks after the slaying. Police responding to a noise complaint said they found him sitting in Zapata's 2003 PT Cruiser, which had been missing since her body was discovered.

Andrade told investigators that he met Zapata through MocoSpace, a social networking Web site, and that they agreed to get together after exchanging contact information over several days, according to an arrest affidavit released by Greeley police. The two met July 15 and spent the day together.

Andrade said 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 stated. He took a fire extinguisher off a shelf and struck Zapata twice in the head, telling investigators he thought he "killed it."

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.

"This is a crime of deception and of his immediate reaction to that deception," she said. "He had been deceived. You will hear in his own words he never knew he had that kind of rage," defense attorney Annette Kundelius told prospective jurors Wednesday.

Prosecutor Brandi Nieto Nieto told jurors that Andrade spent two days with Zapata before the killing and had known for 36 hours about Zapata’s gender. She said Andrade even went to a Greeley court hearing where Zapata was listed on the docket as "Justin Zapata."

"No one deserves to die like this," she said during her opening statement Thursday.

Andrade also faces a state hate-crime charge, called a bias-motivated crime. Attorneys were instructed Wednesday they can't use the phrase "hate crime" during the trial. They must refer to the charge as a bias-motivated crime.

Federal law currently does not cover hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and gay-rights activists are pushing to have new legislation passed.

"What you're doing is setting policy that this type of behavior is no longer acceptable," said Carlos Martinez, with the GLBT Community Center of Colorado. "I think you start changing the mindset of people and over time, you definitely will see a reduction in hate crimes."

Opponents of the hate-crime law have argued that killing a person because of their sexual orientation should be no more serious than killing someone else.

"Why should someone who killed a gay person face a more severe penalty than someone who killed my daughter, who wasn't gay?" asked one man when commenting on the trial.