More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Emotional Testimony in Zapata Trial
On Friday, the atmosphere in the courtroom was especially emotional. The first witness of the day was the investigating detective who described the crime scene, while the prosecution presented pictures, video and evidence from Angie’s apartment. It was truly unsettling to hear, in detail, about the extreme brutality that Angie was subjected to in the last few minutes of her life.
The judge allowed the courtroom to see pictures of Angie’s body as it was discovered, but decided to limit the media and the family’s exposure to autopsy pictures. The conclusion was clear from the testimony: Angie was brutally beaten, and her assailant left no chance for her survival.
After the lunch break, the court heard moving testimony from Angie’s family. Angie’s mother, Maria, described her daughter in detail. “She was beautiful. She was beautiful,” said Maria Zapata. When asked why she called Angie by that name instead of the name assigned at birth, Maria said, “Because she was comfortable with it. She wanted me to.”
Monica and Ashley, Angie’s older sisters, both took the stand on Friday too. Monica and Ashley were the first to discover Angie last July 17 after the attack and their emotional testimony affected everyone in the room. Both sisters were pressed for conflicting statements by the defense.
Monica talked about finding her sister's body, and refusing to believe her to be dead. She challenged the cross-examining attorney, stating in no uncertain terms, “I found my sister murdered. I can’t tell you what I was thinking.”
The defense team continued to use Angie’s birth name and male pronouns. Angie’s sister Stephanie was quizzed by the defense using male pronouns in reference to Angie over and over. Each time, Stephanie responded with, “You mean Angie?” or “You mean my sister?” The defense attorney, clearly surprised by Stephanie’s resolve, responded, “yes” each time.
Angie’s life came to a very tragic and sad end. Yet, I left the courtroom on Friday so proud and happy that Angie, during her short 18 years alive, had been embraced and loved by such an amazing family.