On Thursday afternoon, the jury was finally selected after two and a half days, and attorneys from the prosecution and the defense presented opening statements in the Angie Zapata murder trial.
The courtroom was filled to capacity, mostly by people there to show support for the Zapata family. Court officials reserve about a quarter of the courtroom seats for media - and they were filled to capacity as well. The best count were that there were four television reporters, two online media reporters, and six print reporters present to hear opening statements.
It was interesting to note the amount of real-time reporting from the courtroom. In Session was streaming opening statements on CNN.com - and joining Autumn Sandeen of Pam's House Blend Tweeting from the courtroom was Sharon Dunn of The Greeley Tribune. The Denver Channel (ABC 7) and Westword live-blogged the opening statements.
One thing was reported similarly by all the different media outlets: both District Attorney Ken Buck's office and the defense team agree on one thing - Angie Zapata was brutally beaten to death, her skull was smashed in, and Allen Andrade was the killer.
The prosecution promised to present evidence that Andrade knew that Angie was a transgender woman for at least 36 hours before he killed her.
As an outsider who has grown close to the Zapata family, it was difficult to watch them as they heard the prosecution re-tell the last hours of Angie's life and the moments when her body was discovered. The image that the prosecution showed during opening statements of Angie's lifeless body - barely recognizable because of the blunt force trauma inflicted by Andrade's fire-extinguisher attack on her head - left no doubt about how awful her last moments were.
The picture seemed to affect everyone in the room. Jurors tried to look stoic, and the family tried to contain their emotion - but there was anguish in people's eyes. This 18-year-old daughter, sister, aunt, and friend did not deserve this type of horrific death. No one does. Clearly, the picture affected me too.