Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Transgender murder, hate crime conviction a first

By Jim Spellman

DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- A Colorado man was convicted of first-degree murder and a bias-motivated crime and sentenced to life in prison for killing a transgender teen he met on an online social networking site.
Allen Andrade was convicted of first-degree murder and a hate crime in the slaying of a transgender teen.

It was the first time in the nation that a state hate crime statute resulted in a conviction in a transgender person's murder, the advocacy group Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said.

Seated in the front row of the courtroom, the family of Justin "Angie" Zapata broke out in tears as the verdicts against Allen Andrade were read.

The jury deliberated for just under two hours before returning the verdict shortly after 3 p.m.

"I lost somebody so precious," said Maria Zapata, the victim's mother. She glanced at Andrade and continued: "The only thing he can't take away is the love and the memories that I have of my baby. My beautiful, beautiful baby."

Andrade spoke just one word. "No," he said when asked if he wished to address the court.

Judge Marcelo Kopcow then imposed the mandatory sentence for the first-degree murder conviction -- life in prison without parole.