The Greeley Tribune reports that the Colorado Court of Appeal has soundly rejected the appeal filed by convicted murderer Alan Andrade. Andrade was convicted of the July 2008 murder of 18-year-old Angie Zapata, a transgender resident of Greeley, Colorado.
The Tribune covered the murder in great depth throughout the two week trial, and all the motions and events leading up to the trial. The Tribune set a high standard for coverage, never once allowing the defense’s “blame the victim” court strategy to play out in the paper without appropriate scrutiny and objective reporting.
Andrade’s attorneys had argued on appeal that the trial judge had erred by allowing the suspected murder weapon – a fire extinguisher – into evidence. The appeals court judges responded, “Evidence is not unduly prejudicial simply because it is damaging to a defendant's case.”
Additionally, Andrade’s attorneys had argued that the trial judge erred by failing to instruct the jury about “voluntary intoxication.” There was evidence presented that Andrade had purchased two 40 oz bottles of beer the night of the murder. Additionally, police found four empty bottles of beer when investigating the crime scene. The appeals court judges all agreed that the evidence of empty bottles and the video of the beer purchases was inconclusive as to when Andrade drank the beer (before or after the murder). Additionally Zapata and Andrade had spent more than two days together, and it’s unclear when the other two bottles were consumed.
What was clear to the jury that delivered the guilty verdict (in about two hours of deliberation) for murder as well as a hate crime charge, multiple theft and perpetual offender convictions, was that Allen Andrade brutally beat Angie’s head, not just once, but a second time when she woke up after the first beating. It was clear to the jury that Andrade killed Angie because of his own intense hatred of transgender and gay people.
This type of crime happens all too often. In California, currently a trial is underway in the 2008 murder of 15-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King, allegedly shot by his 14-year-old classmate Brandon McInerney. Larry identified as gay, but is widely described by those who knew him as gender variant. Unfortunately, much like Andrade, McInerney’s attorneys are arguing that the victim had some responsibility in his own murder. The notion is ludicrous; being gender variant or gay is never justification for violence of any type. We hope the court sees through such defenses in Larry’s case as quickly and decisively as they did in Angie’s.
Additionally, it’s necessary that media outlets covering the Larry King trial act as responsibly as The Greeley Tribune did covering Angie’s trial. It is the media’s responsibility to ensure that the defense’s attacks to defend their client do not go unchallenged and without scrutiny. It is never okay to let the victim take blame for his or her own murder, simply because that person was expressing his or her gender expression and identity, or sexual orientation. It’s an important and sometimes challenging task, but imperative of media outlets everywhere.