April 23, 2009
Posted: 09:17 AM ET
GREELEY, Colorado–Guilty times four. Allen Andrade stood to hear the judge read the jury’s verdict. He showed no emotion, though there were a few audible sobs in the packed gallery. After fewer than two hours, the jury of eight men and four women found him guilty of first-degree murder, bias-motivated crime, car theft and identity theft related to the brutal bludgeoning death of transgender teen Angie Zapata last July.
Allen Andrade sentenced to life in prison without parole
An hour later, Andrade was back in the courtroom, wearing bright orange jail attire, to hear the judge pronounce his sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Two days ago, jurors heard a recorded jailhouse call from last August. In it, Andrade told a former girlfriend that he could do “10, maybe 15 [years]” but that he hoped he wouldn’t get a sentence of “forever.” But that, of course, is just what he got. He will be sentenced on the remaining charges after a hearing on May 8. At that time, prosecutors will seek to add 60 years to the life sentence based on Andrade’s criminal history.
This trial was closely watched across the country, particularly by transgender advocacy groups, because it is one of the first cases to charge a bias-motivated crime of a transgender victim. The majority of states that have hate crime protections do not include transgender people within the definition of sexual orientation.
The grave of Angie Zapata
Angie Zapata, born Justin, had been living as a female for about three years before her death. Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C., applauded the work of the police, prosecutors and jurors in Greeley, Colorado. “It was heartening to see that the society in Greeley got this. They understood that [Angie] was a human being. Remarkably and sadly, this was a step forward.”
The jury rejected Andrade’s defense of provocation which could have resulted in a second-degree murder conviction or less, as well as a lighter sentence. Andrade said he became enraged when he learned that the woman he met online, and then spent a few days with, was biologically male.
At the sentencing, Zapata’s mother, struggling to stay composed, told the judge: “Mr. Andrade took my baby away…But he could never take away the love and the memories.” Andrade’s sister, Christina Cruz, also spoke: “Nobody wanted to be in this position. I am very sorry.”
Family and friends visit Zapata's gravesite
Of her brother, she said there are many who love him. “He’s human too.” As Judge Kopcow pronounced sentence, he told Andrade that he hopes “he thinks every day about the violence and brutality he inflicted on a fellow human being.”
At the end of the day, Zapata’s family and friends visited her gravesite. They gathered in a large circle where they prayed, cried, laughed, told stories and promised her that she will never be forgotten. Standing at the headstone, Zapata’s mother reflected: “Right now, I cannot forgive [Andrade]. Maybe someday, in 20 or 30 years, I can forgive, but not right now.”
–Beth Karas, In Session correspondent
Filed under: Uncategorized
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