The first time an anti-transgender hate crime’s charge has been applied in the Unites States has a positive ending today. Angie Zapata’s murderer, Allen Andrade, was found guilty on all 3 counts with which he was charged, including murder. He was also found guilty of the additional hate crimes charge that some feared he would avoid.
The decision to uphold the hate crime’s charge sets an important precedent for the efficacy of anti-transgender hate crimes’ law. The conviction will make it that much easier for advocates to extend hate crimes’ legislation concerning transphobia to the rest of the nation. As it stands, Colorado is the only state with specific laws currently on the books.
Andrade’s conviction also further chips away at the “gay/trans panic defense” which has become far too common place amongst people suspected of assaulting or murdering members of the queer community. And it sends a clear message to defense attorney’s that the tactic of using male pronouns for trans women, or their given names instead of their chosen ones, as a credibility tactic may no longer fly with increasingly aware jurors. At the same time, I don’t doubt the “panic defense” will be used again in this nation and that both lawyers and media will continue to refer to transgendered people by the wrong gender and/or name and in the case of trans women, also refer to them as sex workers without proof. Nevertheless, today’s verdict clearly shows a learning curve in the favor of equality.
Andrade has not been sentenced but his murder conviction comes with mandatory life imprisonment without parole. Prosecutors also intend to enter his past criminal record during the sentencing for his other 3 convictions to push for another Colorado legal statute to kick in that could up his sentence by 4xs the verdict.
Andrade will have an opportunity to address the court at sentencing. As of now, he has expressed nor remorse for his actions nor retracted his homophobic and transphobic comments about Zapata.
source for this post: Colorado Independent
image: Rocky Mountain News/unattributed