TO ORIGINAL SOURCE
WELD COUNTY - The prosecution says it is a hate crime against a transgender woman. The defense is expected to argue it was justified because the accused was misled about the victim's sexuality.
Angie Zapata was 18 years old when she was brutally killed in Greeley on July 17, 2008. Angie was born "Justin" but became transgender in her teenage years.
Police say Zapata was killed in her apartment by 31-year-old Allen Ray Andrade. They say Andrade admitted to police that he and Zapata met online and then set up a date.
According to court documents, he told investigators he was at her place when the relationship became physical and he found out Zapata was anatomically a man - then beat Zapata with a fire extinguisher.
A judge threw out a confession made by Andrade after the murder because he had clearly stated he was done making statements 40 minutes into a 2-hour-long interrogation. The judge also ruled the defense will not be allowed to present evidence that Andrade is a gang member.
The trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday in Weld County. Andrade is accused of murder with a biased motivation. In other words: a hate crime. It is expected to lead to a national conversation about hate crimes.
"This is a highly unusual case and because of the gender issues involved, I anticipate a lot of publicity, a lot of national attention," 9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson said.
Mindy Barton, the legal director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado, says she anticipates a verdict which will have a far-reaching impact.
"Our anticipation is that this will have a landmark kind of decision that comes out of it," Barton said. "Hate crimes throughout Colorado are not terribly reported and in this instance, this will be the first one that we know of that will be prosecuted under the hate crime law in Colorado protecting transgender people."
Barton says Colorado was the first state with a hate crime law on the books in the United States in 1988.
"We worked for years to be able to add sexual orientation and transgender protection in 2005," Barton said.
According to Barton, in order to prove it was a bias motivated crime, the prosecution will have to show Andrade intended to commit the crime against Zapata because of her transgender status.
"The defense will want to keep a low profile, but they have no choice but to use the basis, the motive of the slaying, and hope that the jury will accept that learning the truth infuriated the accused," Robinson said.
Robinson added: "The prosecution will have to remind the jurors that this case is not about sexual preference. This case is about a homicide and whether it is justifiable or not."
Barton thinks the defense will try to blame the victim in this case.
"What they're tying to do in this instance again is blame the victim who's no longer here to be able to tell her side of the story," Barton said.
The organization ProgressNow has started an ad campaign running spots that say "End Hate" on sites such as Facebook and Twitter in hopes of raising awareness about the case. They say they are not running the ads in Weld County however, because they don't want to contaminate a potential jury pool.