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Following up on the trial of Allen Andrade for the 2008 murder of transgender teen Justin "Angie" Zapata, CNN reports that Andrade has been convicted of first degree-murder. In addition, 32-year-old Andrade was also convicted of committing a bias-motivated crime.
As discussed in a prior post, this could represent the first time someone has been prosecuted (and convicted) under Colorado's bias statute for having committed a crime against a transgender individual. CNN added:
"This is a landmark decision," said Mindy Barton, the legal director of the GLBT Community Center of Colorado. Barton attended the trial daily.
"Hearing 'guilty on first-degree murder' and 'guilty of bias-motivated crime' was a hugely emotional experience for all the family, friends and the supporters of Angie," Barton added.
"She will not be forgotten."
Defense attorneys had argued that Andrade simply "snapped" when he discovered Angie Zapata was biologically male:
"When [Andrade] met him he met him as 'Angie,'" defense attorney Annette Kundelius argued on Wednesday. "When he found out it wasn't 'Angie,' that it was 'Justin,' he lost control."
However, the jurors needed only two hours of deliberation to find him guilty. Prosecutors had countered that Andrade did, indeed, know that Angie was biologically male, but it was that knowledge which motivated the crime which was "an ambush attack".
The first-degree murder conviction could bring with it a mandatory life sentence without parole, and the jurors will be coming back later this afternoon to consider the sentencing phase of the case. Supporters of the transgender community hope that this case increases awareness and calls for recognition of transgender individuals within statutes targeting hate crimes.