Alex Blaze

Judge throws out confession in Angie Zapata case

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 12, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Angie Zapata, Colorado, hate crimes against LGBT people, phone calls, prison, transsexual, transwomen

The judge has thrown out the confession of Allen Ray Andrade, who's accused of beating Angie Zapata to death when he found out she was a transwoman.

In the taped confession, he allegedly told investigators that he grabbed Zapata's crotch area, felt male genitalia and became angry. He told investigators that he took a fire extinguisher off a shelf, struck Zapata twice in the head and thought he "killed it."

But in a 24 page ruling, Judge Marcelo Kopcow said that Andrade's rights had been violated because he had told police he was finished answering questions, but investigators persisted with questions leading up to the confession.

"This court finds the defendant's statement, 'I'm done. Yeah, I'm not talking right now' ... is a clear statement of the defendant's request to remain silent and cut off further questioning," Kopcow said in a written ruling.

Bad news, indeed, but if we're going to be mad at anyone in this situation it's the police. They know the rules when it comes to conducting interrogations and this is the result when they break the rules.

Meanwhile, some homophobic statements Andrade made are going to be allowed:

Kopcow also ruled that Andrade's recorded statements in telephone calls from the Weld County Jail would remain as part of the evidence. In those calls, Andrade told his girlfriend that he "snapped" and that "gay things need to die."

The phone calls, played at his preliminary hearing in September, detailed that something bad had happened and that Andrade had made a mistake.

Andrade expressed in the calls that he was out of control, outside himself and not a coherent person the day of the murder, the calls revealed. The phone calls also were laden with derogatory remarks toward homosexuals. In the calls, Andrade stated that people in jail were afraid of him because of his reputation for wielding a fire extinguisher, the suspected murder weapon.

Kopcow ruled that prisoners "have little, if any, reasonable expectation of privacy while incarcerated."

Just in case anyone was still operating under the illusion that Americans make a distinction between "gay" and "transgender"....

Also thrown out was Andrade's status in a gang:

Prosecutors also wanted to include evidence that Andrade was a high-ranking member in a Colorado gang that apparently has a zero-tolerance policy on homosexuality. Prosecutors said Andrade would have faced serious punishment -- even death -- by his gang if it got out that he had any sexual relations with a man, therefore giving him a motive to kill Zapata.

Kopcow ruled that the gang evidence is more speculative than substantive.

"While this proposed evidence may be material and relevant to the defendant's motive, this court finds that the probative value of this evidence is strongly outweighed by the unfair (prejudicial) effect it will have on the jury," Kopcow wrote.

Even with these two pieces of evidence thrown out, it looks like the prosecution still has a strong case against Andrade. We'll see how this turns out.


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Bad news, indeed, but if we're going to be mad at anyone in this situation it's the police. They know the rules when it comes to conducting interrogations and this is the result when they break the rules.

We can't say this too many times. Juries here in Baltimore are always being slammed for being soft on crime. We convict when the police bring in a case by following the rules. Law and order and rule of law apply to the police as well.

I doubt you can blame the police for this travesty. I think you need to examine your own messed up judicial system.

Actually, you can blame the police in this case. They are trained in the rules of evidence gathering, and they know that when a suspect clams up, the interrogation is over. They broke the rules and continued, and while that produced a temporary result that we liked, it doesn't mean it was just.

The United States, much to the consternation of neo-fascists, is not a police state. They don't write the laws or make up the rules as they go along.

Either way, though, how do you even know this is a "travesty"? It's probably because all the duly-collected evidence shows that he's guilty, which means that this should be an easy case for a jury without the confession.

Since when does the right to remain silent also translate to the right to not be questioned? In my opinion they have every right to question you, just as you have every right to keep your mouth shut and not answer them. I'm just a bit disguisted with people getting away with stuff like this.

I was once questioned regarding something. The first thing I was told by the police was that "I was not under arrest and i was free to leave at anytime". The truth of the matter is I didn't feel like that. I was certain that had I said i was done and i was leaving I was going to be arrested there on the spot, and so there I sat talking my head away and ended up getting myself in hot water. I guess some people have no sense of responsibility or right or wrong. I figure I did it to myself and I did my time as a result.

Its a shame that so many transpeople are murdered and have their murderers set free or not held properly accountable. But then again I guess in some people's eyes we asked for it by 'lying' about who we are to someone etc. Perhaps we should all start wearing pink triangles to identify ourelves to the world?

Stuff like this has to stop. The justice system may be responslbe for protecting the rights of the accused but at some point it has to remember the victims as well.

Since when does the right to remain silent also translate to the right to not be questioned? In my opinion they have every right to question you, just as you have every right to keep your mouth shut and not answer them.

I kind of wondered about that too, Stephanie.

To not be badgered or coerced into speaking is part and parcel of the right not self-incriminate.

Remembering the victims means training the police to follow rules of evidence. Protecting the innocent means holding the police accountable when they don't perform their duties as trained.

What Andrade needs is the lawyer from this case.

All he has to do is claim that he left the victim asleep, and while asleep, took everything nailed down, then her car. Some other person must have come in and killed her, or perhaps she beat herself to death with a fire extinguisher out of remorse, and as she lay dying, covered her own body with a blanket.

That theory worked in the murder of Kellie Telesford, who was found strangled with a scarf wrapped round her neck so tightly, the paramedics couldn't insert a finger underneath to help cut it off. According to the jury, she too had managed to cover herself with a wrap in the 10 or so seconds she had before losing consciousness.

The rules are different when the victim isn't just a young woman, but a young transsexual woman. It's possible to get away with murder then.