Firsts: Hate Crime Law Applied To Transgender Murder In ColoradoS

Allen Andrade is accused of beating an 18-year-old transgender woman to death with a fire extinguisher, saying, "gay things need to die." The defense argues she tricked him by claiming to be a woman.

Yesterday opening statements were heard in the murder trial of Angie Zapata, which marks the first time someone has been tried under the sexual orientation section of Colorado's hate crime law, according to The New York Times. Zapata was killed in Greeley, Colorado, two weeks before her 19th birthday last summer. Andrade, 32, told the police that he met Zapata on the internet and they had a sexual encounter. He then found out that she was biologically male and attacked her with a fire extinguisher. In an affidavit, he said he thought he had "killed it," but Zapata tried to get up, so he hit her in the head again.

Andrade and Zapata communicated nearly 700 times via text message, cell phone, and computer between July 12 and 16 because Zapata said she was looking for a roommate, reports the Associated Press. The two spent the day together and ended up in Zapata's one-bedroom apartment. He told police that she performed oral sex on him, but wouldn't let him touch her. Andrade saw photos in the apartment that led him to ask about her gender. She told him, "I am all woman," according to Andrade.

Defense attorney Bradley Martin, who repeated referred to Zapata as "Justin," her birth name, said his client was deceived because her profile said she was a straight female. "This case is about a deception, and a reaction to that deception," said Martin, "Allen discovered that Angie, this girl he had spent the last night with, was in fact a man, and Allen snapped."

Prosecutors say Andrade plotted to kill Zapata 36 hours after figuring out that she was born male. "This is the person who spent time with her, talked to her and then, on the evening of July 16, picked up a fire extinguisher and bashed in her skull," said Brandi Nieto, a deputy district attorney, adding, "His statements will show he did this because she was transgender."

In a recorded phone conversation from jail between Andrade and his girlfriend, he said, ""It is not like I went up to a schoolteacher and shot her in the head or killed a straight law-abiding citizen." His attorney said he was just joking.

Andrade is facing life in prison for the first-degree murder charge and the hate crime charge carries an additional sentence of 3 years. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have hate-crime laws that cover gender identity. According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, 21 transgender people were killed last year, but this is the first time any state's hate crime law has been applied to the murder of a transgendered person.

Murder Trial Tests Colorado Hate-Crime Statute [The New York Times]
Defense: Colo. Transgender Slaying About Deception [The Associated Press]