“End Hate” Campaign Ramps Up For Zapata Murder Trial


A group of 50 progressive, civil rights and anti-violence groups
launched a massive Internet and print media public information campaign
Wednesday across Colorado to inform readers about transgender murder
victim Angie Zapata, whose accused killer goes on trial in Greeley next
week.

The top portion of a full-page newspaper
ad running in Colorado newspapers to bring attention to violence
against LGBT victims. (Graphic/ProgressNow Colorado)

The ads urge readers to “light a candle for Angie,” the 18-year-old
Greeley resident found beaten to death last summer in her apartment,
and to support passage of legislation that would add sexual orientation
to federal hate-crime law. The trial of Allen Andrade, 32, will be the
first time in the nation that hate-crime charges will be included in
the prosecution of a defendant accused of murdering a transgender
victim.

A full-page ad featuring members of Angie Zapata’s family ran in 22 Colorado newspapers the same day the coalition of nonprofits organized by ProgressNow Colorado and the the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Community Center of Colorado unveiled a resource-rich Web site, AngieZapata.com, and began an Internet campaign that includes Google ads, Twitter feeds and Facebook and MySpace
pages. “The strong support of state organizations recognizing the
importance of this trial has been overwhelming,” GLBT Community Center
executive director Carlos Martinez said in a release announcing the
campaign.

Andrade stands accused of beating Zapata to death with a fire
extinguisher and his fists in July after he learned she was a
transgender woman. His trial, scheduled to run eight days, begins April
14 in the courtroom of Weld County District Court Judge Marcelo Kopcow.
Andrade is being held without bond at the Weld County Jail.

When police arrested Andrade driving Zapata’s sister’s stolen car
two weeks after the teenager’s body was discovered, he told authorities
he had been on a date with Zapata and said that he “killed it” after
growing suspicious Angie was transgender. Last month, Kopcow threw out most of Andrade’s confession, ruling that police should have ended their interrogation of Andrade once he told a detective he wanted to stop talking.

Jurors in the Andrade trial also won’t hear evidence prosecutors had
hoped to introduce that Andrade belongs to a gang known for punishing —
even killing — members who have homosexual sex. Prosecutors had
intended to argue Andrade’s gang ties and fears of retribution gave him
a motive to kill Zapata, but the judge ruled the information would
prejudice the jury.

Potential jurors probably won’t see the “End Hate” newspaper ad
campaign, either, which ran just about everywhere in the state except
northern Colorado. “We did not want to be seen in any way trying to
influence the jury pool,” said GLBT Community Center spokeswoman
Heather Draper.

The coalition of nonprofits running the campaign hopes to bring
attention to violence against transgender victims, pointing to 21
murders of transgender and “gender non-conforming people” last year. Bias-motivated crimes against transgender and homosexual victims
are among the most common tracked by authorities, surpassed only by
crimes based on race and religion, according to a 2006 FBI report.

The coalition is calling for Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Act,
which would add gender, sexual orientation and gender identity to
federal hate-crime law and allow federal authorities to step in when
local law enforcement either asks for help or refuses to take the lead
investigating and prosecuting bias-motivated crimes of violence. The
federal law passed both houses of Congress in 2007 with bipartisan
support, but then-President George W. Bush threatened to veto the bill
and congressional leaders dropped it. Last month, Democratic U.S. Rep.
John Conyers of Michigan, who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee
and Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois introduced the bill
again and backers have high hopes for the legislation this year because President Obama has said he supports it.

In 2005, the Colorado Legislature added sexual orientation, including transgender status, to Colorado’s hate-crime law, broadening the statute from the Ethnic Intimidation Act to one covering bias-motivated crime.

Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck included hate-crime charges
among a raft of other felony counts filed against Andrade, including
first-degree murder, automobile theft and identity theft. In December, Buck added habitual criminal charges to the prosecution’s arsenal,
which could quadruple any sentence handed down by the jury based on
Andrade’s three prior felony convictions for contraband possession,
theft and lying to a pawnbroker. Buck said he filed the additional
count in case the jury convicts on a lesser-included charge, such as
second-degree murder, which carries a statutory sentence of eight to 24
years. A first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of
life imprisonment or the death penalty in Colorado.

“The tragic circumstances of Angie’s death gives Coloradans an
opportunity to better understand Angie’s life and the lives of
transgender people,” the coalition contends. Toward that end,
ProgressNow Colorado produced a video featuring Zapata’s family
remembering Angie:

The ad ran in these newspapers at a cost of $36,000, according to
organizers: Pueblo Chieftain, Durango Herald, Grand Junction Sentinel,
Colorado Springs Gazette, Aurora Sentinel Daily and Weekender, Buckley
Guardian, Arvada Press, Lakewood Sentinel, Golden Transcript, Wheat
Ridge Transcript, Westminster Window, Northglenn/Thornton Sentinel,
Westsider, Thornton Frontier, Littleton Independent, Englewood Herald,
Highlands Ranch Herald, Lone Tree Voice, Centennial Citizen, Douglas
County News-Press, Castle Rock News-Press and the Parker Chronicle.

 

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