Jess McCabe // 19 April 2009
Angie Zapata was brutally murdered in Colorado last summer:
Allen Andrade is currently on trial in the US, accused of her murder. It is the first time that anyone has been prosecuted in the US under hate crime legislation which includes gender identity.
Helen at Bird of Paradox has been following this case since the summer, so I’d really recommend heading over to her blog to keep up to date on this one.
The defence are calling on the ‘trans panic defence’. Or, as Broadsheet puts it “euphemisms and apologies for hate”. In this case, the prosecution are hoping to convict Andrade under the state of Colorado’s hate crimes legislation, which of course carries a longer sentence. The defense are seeking a lower sentence because – get this – they claim Andrade killed Zapata in a rage after discovering she was a trans woman. As in, hate crime legislation shouldn’t apply, because… er… it was a killing provoked by hate – as Broadsheet notes, this is a piece of particularly slippery logic.
None-the-less, the prosecution is arguing that Andrade knew Zapata was a trans woman at least 36 hours before she was murdered, meaning that the dodgy trans panic defence shouldn’t come into play.
As Autumn at Pam’s House Blend says:
What is the point of having a hate crime statute that includes transgender status in it’s language if defendants and defense attorneys can use that membership in the transgender community as a reason to blame a victim for his or her own death?
Meanwhile, This story at the Greeley Tribune, talks about what’s going on in the courtroom – which is that the defence are consistantly misgendering Angie, using male pronouns and referring to her as ‘Justin’:
Attorneys on Thursday opened the nine-day murder trial with vastly different theories: The prosecution said Andrade knew for 36 hours that Zapata was biologically male, and he killed her because of an intense hatred for homosexuals. Public defenders have plotted the defense that Andrade was so deceived by Zapata, who was convincingly female, that he snapped and lost control when he learned she had male genitalia.
To the prosecution, she’s Angie. The defense, in every instance, refers to Justin.
On Friday, witnesses weren’t conforming to the defense.
Stephanie Villalobos, Zapata’s sister, continually corrected the defense. In one exchange while she was being cross-examined about loaning money to Zapata for gas to come back to Greeley after picking up Andrade in Thornton:
Martin: “Justin actually called and asked you for $10 in gas.”
Villalobos: “Yes, she did.”
In another exchange with Felecia Luna, Zapata’s best friend, about two of Zapata’s purses:
Kundelius: “Both belonged to Justin?”
Luna: “Yeah, Angie.”