Thursday, April 23, 2009

Life Without Parole For Murder of Transwoman

We've been watching this trial in Colorado, a guy killed a woman after he discovered she was transgender. He is charged with a hate crime. From the Colorado Independent:
GREELEY — A man convicted Wednesday of using a fire extinguisher to crush the skull of a transgender Greeley woman was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole just over an hour after a jury returned guilty verdicts on all four counts charged, including first-degree murder and hate-crime charges. Weld District Judge Marcelo Kopcow imposed the mandatory life sentence on Allen Andrade, 32, for murdering Angie Zapata, 18, last summer in Greeley.

“Mr. Andrade, I hope as you’re spending the remaining part of your natural life in the Department of Corrections that everyday you think of the violence and brutality that you caused on this fellow human being and the pain you have caused not only on your family but the family of Angie Zapata,” Kopcow told Andrade, who re-entered the courtroom an hour after the jury verdict shackled and wearing a bright orange prison jumpsuit. BREAKING: Andrade sentenced to life without parole in Zapata killing


This article has a strange paragraph at the end.
Public defender Annette Kundelius spoke briefly before the sentence was handed down: “I think it’s important for everyone to know Mr. Andrade is not some kind of monster as some have portrayed.” Saying she’d had a chance to get to know Andrade since she began defending him last fall, Kundelius said, “He is a good person and he does care. He does have a lot of people who care about him and he does care about them as well.”

He's not a monster, just a guy who battered somebody to death with a fire extinguisher because they weren't the gender he thought they were. A real sweetheart. I understand Ted Bundy was a nice guy, too.

In fact, this defense attorney took the low road in trying to get Andrade off the hook. From the Greeley Tribune Saturday:
The first few times, it almost seemed like the public defenders were misspeaking.

But then, those watching the murder trial of Allen Andrade started muttering under their breaths. Witnesses on the stand continued to correct the attorneys questioning them.

Family members and friends echoed repeatedly, “my sister,” “Angie,” one by one on the stand Friday as public defenders Annette Kundelius and Brad Martin questioned them about “Justin.” Angie Zapata's friends, family take the stand

Angie Zapata was legally Justin Zapata, a preoperative transgender woman who met Andrade through an online dating site last summer. Three days later she was dead.
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.”

I guess this approach is supposed to make the judge and jury sympathetic but, uh, I don't see how it's supposed to work. Everybody who knew Angie called her "Angie," nobody called her "Justin" except for the defense attorneys. They counted on the bigotry of the jury and the jury let them down.

The murderer was taped after the incident talking to his friends, referring to Angie as "it." He told one friend, "It's not like I . . . killed a straight, law-abiding citizen."

This is the first time anyone has been charged under a Colorado hate-crime law that includes gender identity. It sounds like the judge had no problem at all throwing the book at the guy, and I say: good.


Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

According to CNN, “The jury heard jailhouse phone conversations, including Andrade telling a girlfriend "gay things must die." He did not testify in his own defense.”

( )

And yet still people wonder why we need and anti-bullying campaign.

Rest in peace Angie.


April 23, 2009 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Living in Denver for the past couple of years - I hear all the weird stories coming from Greeley. It is like a magnet for weirdness or possibly something in the water ? Who knows?

Last year there was a love triangle/murder involving the sheriff's department.

Then this weirdness.

A week or two back, the local bank failed. The weirdness just continues.

I've never actually been there, and I think I'll make sure that its a cold day in hell before I do.

April 23, 2009 11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The accused killer told police he met Zapata on an Internet dating site and spent the night with her. Andrade said he received oral sex from Zapata but didn’t discover she was transgender until the next day when photographs he’d seen in her apartment raised his suspicions.

Zapata smiled at him and said, “I’m all woman” when he grabbed at her crotch and felt a penis, throwing him into a rage, Andrade told police. He admitted knocking Zapata to the ground and then bashing her head with a fire extinguisher.

April 24, 2009 1:29 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Angie was 18. Like many teenagers she engaged in sexual activities that she shouldn’t have. (Bristol Palin, at 17, shouldn’t have been having sex with Levi, for example.) Angie did not deserve the death sentence for her mistake.



April 24, 2009 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like Sir B.O.'s appeasement policy is working about as well as Chamberlain's did:

"SEOUL, South Korea (April 24) - Two U.S. journalists accused by North Korea of crossing into the country illegally from China and committing "hostile acts" will be tried on criminal charges, the isolated nation announced Friday.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who work for San Francisco-based Current TV, a media venture founded by former Vice President Al Gore, were arrested March 17 near the North Korean border while reporting on refugees living in China.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency confirmed their detention late last month, saying indictments were being prepared as an investigation into suspected illegal entry and unspecified "hostile acts" continued.

A dispatch Friday said the investigation had concluded, and the journalists would stand trial "on the basis of the confirmed crimes."

It did not say exactly what charges they face or when the trial would take place."

btw, Iran is also holding an American reporter.

We need to have Kim Jong Il and his Iranian counterpart over for dinner to talk about it.

This is all obviously a big misundersatnding.

We're all buddies!

April 24, 2009 10:27 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 24, 2009 2:56 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "Zapata smiled at him and said, “I’m all woman” when he grabbed at her crotch and felt a penis, throwing him into a rage".

The prosecution presented evidence at the trial Andrade knew she was a transgender woman 36 hours prior to the murder. He had attended traffic court with her at that time and heard her referred to by her former male name. So the supposed "sudden realization" she was trans was false and the "gay panic" defence fabricated - the jury agreed as Andrade was convicted of a hate crime and first degree (premeditated) murder.

April 24, 2009 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you, O-one-who-cannot-comment-without-deleting!

April 24, 2009 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

And thank you, oh nameless one who brims with personal animosity.

April 24, 2009 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Looks like the GOP just can't win a seat no matter how many Republicans there are in a district.

Democrat Wins Upstate House Seat

Updated, 6:10 p.m. | Nearly a month after a tight Congressional election in upstate New York, the Republican conceded defeat on Friday in a race that had drawn national interest.

The Democrat, Scott Murphy, expanded his lead over James N. Tedisco in the recount, despite a strong Republican advantage in voter registration. As of 4 p.m., the tally was 80,420 for Mr. Murphy to 80,021 for Mr. Tedisco, a difference of 399 votes, according to the state Board of Elections.

Mr. Tedisco, a state Assemblyman from Saratoga, conceded defeat in a call to Mr. Murphy and in a statement released Friday afternoon. “It was important for our electoral process and for the hard-working people of upstate New York that it be resolved fairly and decisively,” Mr. Tedisco said...

Norm Coleman, are you listening?

April 24, 2009 6:38 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Contrary to Andrade's claim there is also no evidence to suggest Angie ever had sex with him, and much to suggest they did not:

It shouldn't come as any surprise that someone evil enough to commit premeditated murder would also lie about it to attempt to avoid the consequences of it.

April 25, 2009 1:52 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Jim quotes the news report quoting the defense lawyer

“He is a good person and he does care. He does have a lot of people who care about him and he does care about them as well.”

Jim remarks that this is a strange paragraph, something that I could not agree more upon. In fact if I were the judge and this were said in my courtroom I would make it clear that "good people" do NOT murder other people. Still, I am not surprised by such a comment, nor do I think it is strange since this is symptomatic of the times in which we live wherein it is permitted for people to assert that while someone did something bad, they are still basically a "good person". In the past this has been a comment made by those of the liberal persuasion, though distressingly enough I have noticed it making inroads among those that identify themselves as "conservative". Bottom line? We define ourselves by what we say and what we do, for example if someone steals then they are a thief by definition.

Another way to look at such a morally insipid comment is this: consider the source. It was this murderer's defense lawyer...still, I can't shake the feeling that if this lawyer had better sense she would have said nothing than to have made such comments.

April 25, 2009 3:19 PM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Orin wrote:

“Jim remarks that this is a strange paragraph, something that I could not agree more upon. In fact if I were the judge and this were said in my courtroom I would make it clear that "good people" do NOT murder other people. Still, I am not surprised by such a comment, nor do I think it is strange since this is symptomatic of the times in which we live wherein it is permitted for people to assert that while someone did something bad, they are still basically a "good person".”

I agree with all of your points here Orin… does that mean the universe will shortly collapse in on itself and disappear?!?! ;)

I also believe that the lawyer’s sentiment is rooted in a perception of trans-people being somewhat less than human. No one would look to Jerry Springer for insightful political news, thoughtful analysis of international relations, or even hot stock tips. Often though, when people hear “transgender” or “transsexual,” Jerry Springer’s eponymous show is the first and only place they draw from for information. Groups like the CRG which has major portions of its website ( dedicated to portraying anyone with a non-conforming gender expression as “mentally ill” and “confused” doesn’t help either. (“If we choose now to give special rights to a mental illness such as "Gender Identity Disorder"…, “Legal protection against discrimination based on mental illness is not provided for any other disorder.” etc.)

The fact of the matter is trans people are still, first and foremost, PEOPLE. We bleed, we laugh, we love, we cry. We are just ordinary people trying to make the most of what we have with our life, just like anyone else. No one grows up thinking “Hey, I want to be a transsexual!” We try to make our lives fit into the prescribed definitions for a long as we can, until we reach the point where it simply doesn’t work anymore, and we have to face ourselves, our fears, and almost certain rejection by many of those around us. There comes a time when we can no longer hold together a façade of a person erected entirely to please the expectations of the society around us. There comes a time when we have to be who we really are, without fear or censorship, and let people love us for who we really are, or leave us for some memory of what they thought we were.

I don’t expect anyone who is not transgendered to understand how this all feels. Nor do I expect anyone who hasn’t had a ruptured appendix to know what *that* feels like. But imagine if you’re lying on a hospital gurney in sheer agony and the doctor asks you “Where does it hurt?” and you point to the area of your appendix (and if you’re like me, you don’t even know exactly where that is, just somewhere generally in the belly region). He then proceeds to poke you in a couple of test spots and at the last one you let out a loud yelp. At this point he says “Your appendix is about to burst, we need to get it out of you immediately.” Normally, you’re not inclined to let people you don’t know cut out your internal organs, especially without a long, thoughtful nuanced discussion, but for this case, you’ll probably make an exception.

If it wasn’t for some middle- or high-school biology class, you probably wouldn’t even know you HAD an appendix. It’s been doing its job for years without complaint and you didn’t even realize it was there. But if the doctor is telling you it needs to be removed within the next few hours to save your life, the sheer agony of the experience is probably enough to convince you the doctor is right. If it’s not, wait a while… see how long you can go before you beg to sign the papers admitting you to surgery.

Most people never have to think about their Gender Identity because it’s never been in conflict with the rest of their body. It’s just another part of the brain humming along doing its thing without you even noticing it. How would you know if there was a structural anomaly in the basal nucleus of your stria terminalis? Did you even know you HAD one of those?
I am an electrical engineer by training, and as such I’m well acquainted with analytical physical realities. Transistors don’t care if I exceed their collector-emitter breakdown voltage – they just follow the laws of physics; and in this case, they burn out. So I design my circuits so that doesn’t happen. I’ve never personally seen the perpendicular electric and magnetic fields that are so elegantly described by Maxwell’s equations, but that doesn’t stop me from using ferrite beads, proper board layout techniques, and assorted shields to keep these waves inside the boxes I design so they don’t interfere with people’s radios, computers, hearing aids and pacemakers.

Currently the only known way to ascertain if someone has the stria terminalis structure of a male or a female is to dissect the correct portion of their brain, cut it up into thin slices and examine it under a microscope. Obviously, as a diagnostic tool, this is somewhat unhelpful, unless the patient in question is already dead.

Like Maxwell’s electromagnetic waves, I have never seen the basal nucleus of my stria terminalis. But I’m sure mine looks pretty female. I know what my life was like before I transitioned, and what it’s like now – it’s like the difference between night and day. I’ve also witnessed and been a part of the transition of many of my new friends, and seen the light switch turn on in them too. It’s a quivering, humbling feeling when one of them looks you in the eye and says “You helped save my life.”

Some people like to deride transsexuals “because they FEEL like a” man or a woman in spite of their genitalia. I’m not sure I know what it “feels” like to be either. I can tell you I am finally at peace with myself living as a woman. I still wish I was born with the right body parts to go with that, but I wasn’t so lucky. (No, I don’t wish I was born a man with a masculine stria terminalis, because having tried to live as a man for so many years I don’t see how it’s really possible for a man to be happy. I realize that there are other people that “go the other direction” and seem to be happy, but I’m still skeptical.) But before you dismiss someone based on their feelings, ask yourself a few questions:

How did you choose your wife or husband? Did you compare their antigens with yours to see if you had a complimentary histocompatibility complex? Did you check their medical history to see if you both might have recessive genes that could cause your offspring major medical problems? Did you have someone analyze their financial records to see if you had compatible fiduciary habits? Did you interview their relatives to see how good of a fit you’d be with them and their lifestyles? Did you compare long lists of your life goals to make sure they all lined up first? Did you make sure your partner espoused the same type of parenting techniques so your offspring don’t take advantage of those differing opinions and play one parent off the other to get what they want? Yes? No? Maybe – to some of them? Was it because you feared what her father might do to you for getting her pregnant?

What did you REALLY base your decision on? Keep in mind, it may be one of the most important decisions you will EVER make. It could have consequences for decades.

Was it Love? Was it because it just felt “right” or “natural,” or “ordained by God”?

Isn’t that a FEELING?

I am a human. I have feelings. Despite knowing that all the firing neurons in my brain are pumping out pulse-width modulated electrical signals, no manipulation of Maxwell’s equations can turn them on and off like a light switch. The best I can do is to channel those feelings to positive effects.

So I sit here typing away, sending my thoughts out through the Intertubes via electronic signals and countless transistor switches before they show up on a screen somewhere else. There they are transformed into small pixels of light (another manifestation of Maxwell’s equations) before they pass through a perhaps astigmatic lens and then impinging on neurons that transform photons into yet more electronic signals, in a brain potentially hundreds of miles away.

Once there I can only hope (perhaps vainly) that those signals generate a small cascade of responses that might equate to “understanding,” “tolerance,” or a sense of humanity for those like Angie and me. Or perhaps at least recognition that thoughts and actions like those of Alan Ray Andrade (“gay things must die”) and their precursors have no place in a civil society.



April 25, 2009 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can we take a vote?:

how many people read all of Cynthia's comment?

April 26, 2009 5:41 PM  

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