4/19/09

GoodBye to Hate : Angie's Zapata's Legacy



By kelli Anne Busey, planetransgender, April 19, 2009

The Courtroom's galleries reaction to the defense attorney's during the murder trial of Allen Ray Andrade is a microcosm of America's disgust that anyone would attempt to justify murder by intentionally with preconceived agenda and intent, emotionally and spiritually attack Angie's loved ones while they testify.

Where else might such a disastrous and despicable tactic be found? And why is the perception of right and wrong shifting after seemingly remaining unaltered throughout eternity?

"Invisible airwaves crackle with life
Bright antenae bristle with the energy
Emotional feedback, on timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price - almost free"
~Rush Spirit of the airwaves.


When woman are raped, the presently discredited tactic defense attorneys often used was to claim or insinuate that 'we deserved it' or that we 'asked for it' because of our attire, perfume, and even the fact that we were in public at a certain hour.

Woman now hold power in society and we are no longer silent victims.

Because we as sexual minorities, LBGT people, are no longer complacent with the edict's of Misogynous patriarchate's to be discarded or at best marginalized to the perimeters of faith as we seek readmission from religions. Much to our detriment what we were actually doing was giving credence to the church's discrimination and enabling spiritual violence.

We realize now the powerful message of radical inclusion of Christ's life and are now living his word centering ourselves among the righteous of the true church.

"All this machinery making modern music
Can still be open-hearted
Not so coldly charted; it's really just a question of your honesty.
One likes to believe in the freedom of music
But glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity"


Or perhaps not so often as our previously patriarchdom controlled culture had allowed we now embrace the freedom of the air waves to confront open consciousnesses that were sedated with comfort's allowed by inequity and injustice.

"For the words of the profits were written on the studio wall and concert hall
And echoes with the sound of salesmen."
~Rush 'Freedom of the airways'.


One transgender woman who lived authentically and without fear is a part of our unstoppable transition.

This is certainly people who's life's depends on inspiring hate, worsts nightmare.

It opens the door of life, liberty, freedom and the right to live without religious persecution, for those of us who do not.

On the web

Source Beth Karas, In Session correspondent, CNN "Defense spars with victim’s family at trial "

"GREELEY, Colorado–Angie Zapata’s mother, sisters and friends took on the defense on the second day of the trial of the man accused of killing her last July. Zapata, a transgender female, was bludgeoned to death in her home in Greeley, Colorado, allegedly because she was biologically a male living as a female."

"The accused, six-time convicted felon Allen Andrade, isn’t denying he’s the killer. He says that it wasn’t a premeditated murder as charged by the state; rather that Zapata’s deceit threw him into an uncontrollable rage. If convicted of a lesser degree of murder, he could avoid life without parole."

"On the second day of the trial, seven family members and friends of Zapata testified. Of those seven, five of them, Zapata’s mother, two sisters and two friends, consistently embraced Zapata’s transgender status."

Full Article at CNN.com Defense spars with victim’s family at trial

Reconciling Ministries Network

The Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) is a growing movement of United Methodist individuals, congregations, campus ministries, and other groups working for the full participation of all people in the United Methodist Church.

This blog post is my personal opinion and is not an official policy statement or press release from any organization.

What Does "Justice For Angie" Mean?

by: Autumn Sandeen
Sat Apr 18, 2009 at 21:57:57 PM EDT

Cross posted with full permission from Pam's House Blend. Thank You Autumn.

I have lots of blog diaries to write this weekend. I need to post on what happened at the trial Friday (and why it's hard for me to post about it), about what my experience in Greeley, Colorado has been like, and a post entitled "Am I Deceptive Too?"

But, I'm going to make my first report this weekend about what are the possible sentences will be if Allen Ray Andrade is found guilty of a homicide directly related to Angie's killing. And, talking about how Justice For Angie may be slightly different that justice for the Transgender (or Trans) Community, and the broader Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community, as well as the Progressive and Civil Rights Communities.

And, my source for the possible sentences is Beth Karas (Facebook fan page is here) of TruTV In Session (formerly known as CourtTV).

Beth and I had coffee this morning at Café Woody's. There, she graciously explained to what the prosecutor is aiming for, what the defense is aiming for, and the punishments would be for the for just the murder change. (There are other criminal complaints for this case, and except for the bias motivated crime complaint, these won't be discussed in this piece.) Beth is an attorney -- a former prosecutor herself -- so she knows law. She thoroughly researched the possible homicide sentences, and briefed me on possible sentencing based upon what, if homicide charge, Allen Ray Andrade is convicted of.

[This] is a table of the charged offenses against Allen Ray Zapata, with possible sentences.

Since this isn't a death penalty case, life without parole would be the highest sentence Andrade could receive. And, that sentence apparently would be the automatic sentence if he were convicted of that crime -- there would apparently no discretion available to the Judge (Judge Marcelo Kopcow) regarding sentencing. First Degree Murder is premeditated murder in Colorado, is a First Class Felony (F1), and is the criminal conviction that the prosecution is aiming for.

Allen Ray Andrade could also be found guilty of Second Degree Murder, Felony Second Class (F2). If he were found guilty of this criminal count, the sentence range is 16 to 48 years. Colorado doesn't have indeterminate sentencing for crimes, so he wouldn't be sentenced to 16 to 48 years, he would be sentenced to 16 years, 48 years, or some number of years in between those two numbers. A conviction on this criminal count would mean that the jury believed that the murder wasn't premeditated.

The other homicide conviction Andrade could be found guilty of, assuming he his found guilty of any criminal homicide, would be Second Degree Murder, Felony Third Class (F3). In most other states, this criminal offense would be referred to as Manslaughter. If he were found guilty of this criminal count, the sentence range is 10 to 32 years. Again, Colorado doesn't have indeterminate sentencing for crimes, so he wouldn't be sentenced to 10 to 32 years, he would be sentenced to 10 years, 32 years, or some number of years in between those two numbers. The defense has conceded that Andrade committed the killing, and an F3 criminal conviction that the prosecution is aiming for, based on heat of passion (read in this case as "gay panic" or "trans panic") and intoxication.

The elements that would be taken into account by a jury to change Second Degree Murder from an F2 into an F3 felony offence would include provocation, rape, heat of passion, and intoxication, for example. And, as stated in the paragraph above, the Andrade defense is claiming heat of passion and intoxication.

[Below the fold: On Colorado's Habitual Offender enhancements, and what Angie's family believes justice for Angie in a criminal sentence would entail.]

Autumn Sandeen :: What Does "Justice For Angie" Mean?

Colorado has a "three strikes" kind of law on their books, as many states do -- their law is referred to as their Habitual Offender law. Essentially, if a defendant is found guilty in trial of a felony and has had 2 prior felony convictions, he can be found by the trial judge to be an habitual offender. The prosecution has submitted 6 felonies to the court as ones that could be used by judge to find Allen Ray Andrade to be an habitual offender, so if Andrade is convicted of the F1, F2, or F3 offence with regards to Angie's killing, it seems likely that he'll be considered an habitual offender. If Andrade is found guilty of the highest F1 count, then the prosecutor isn't going to push for the habitual offender enhancement: he already would be receiving a sentence of life without parole. However, if he's found guilty of the F2 or F3, that enhancement would be significant -- it doubles the maximum sentence.


So if Andrade were found guilty of the F2 felony by the jury, and if the court found he was an habitual offender, then the result would be that the judge would have no discretion in sentencing Andrade to 96 years in prison. In a similar manner, if Andrade were found guilty of the F2 felony by the jury, and if the court found he was an habitual offender, then the result would be that the judge would have no discretion in sentencing Andrade to 64 years in prison. As Andrade is 31 years old, it's likely that if he were convicted of an F1, F2, or F3 homicide, and found to be an habitual offender, he would likely spend the rest of his natural life in prison.

If we're looking for justice for Angie, having her admitted killer spend the rest of his natural life in prison would be justice for her and her family -- and that's accorning to Angie's family. We need to remember this to help us keep perspective on any felony homicide conviction in this case before the Weld County Court.

If we're looking for justice for broader community; however, then one of the other charges we haven't talked about yet -- the bias motivated charge -- becomes important.

Count 2 of the charges is the Bias Motivates Crime count. This count reads as follows:

Between and including July 16, 2008 and July 17, 2008, Allen Ray Andrade, with intent to intimidate or harass [Angie's male name] Zapata, also known as Angie Zapata, because of her actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin , physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation, unlawfully, feloniously, and knowingly caused bodily injury to [Angie's male name] Zapata, also known as Angie Zapata; in violation of section 18-9-121(2)(a), C.R.S.


Sexual orientation is defined as follows in the statute:


"Sexual orientation" means a person's actual or perceived orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status.


Speaking as an individual who identifies as both transgender and transsexual, and knowing trans folks at the grass roots as I do, I don't believe that the Trans Community will be satisfied with an F2 or F3 homicide conviction of the admitted killer of Angie Zapata alone. To be "acceptable," an F2 or F3 homicide conviction would need to be accompanied with a conviction on the bias motivated crime count. Given the facts of this case, if Colorado is unsuccessful in convincing a jury that this was a bias motivated hate crime against transgender people, many trans people will be wondering what set of facts will convince a Colorado jury that a bias motivated crime against a trans person was committed against a trans person specifically because the killed person was trans.


And, because that mixed outcome would matter to trans people, their significant others, their friends, their families, and their allies, that outcome would matter to many people in the broader LGBT, Progressive, and Civil Rights communities.

In my mind, justice for Angie is the most important outcome we need to concerned about in this case, and not vengence for Angie. And, according to Angie's family, justice justice for Angie means that admitted killer Allen Ray Andrade spend the rest of his natural life in prison. I'm with the family on this.


But that said, no one should be under the delusion that justice for Angie in this criminal case is necessarily the exact same thing as justice for trans people. If there isn't a hate crime conviction in this case, the broader communities are going to have to rethink how hate crime laws are written so that "gay panic" and "trans panic" strategies put forward by defense attornys don't nulify the intent of the hate crime laws. And, the intent of these hate crime laws being the legal tools to address how people in the LGBT community feel fear -- and feel terrorized -- by hate crimes against their brothers and sisters within their community. We often fear becoming hate crime victims ourselves, especially when we hear of hate crimes being commited against others in our community; when we don't see those perceived as committing hate crimes being convicted of the hate crimes they're charged with.

Cross posted from Pam's House Blend in our effort to make public the trial of Allen Ray Andrade for the Murder of Angie Zapata.

Are Trans People Like Angie And Me Deceptive?

Are Trans People Like Angie And Me Deceptive?
by: Autumn Sandeen Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 04:22:30 AM EDT Reposted with full permission. Thank you Autumn.

Sharon Dunn of the Greeley Tribune began her Saturday piece Angie Zapata's friends, family take the stand this way:


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."


Summarizing the two things that will effect me for quite awhile that I saw in the courtroom Friday are 1.) seeing the crime scene photos and video of Angie, lying dead on the floor, a pool of dried blood around her head, and 2.) watching and hearing a classic trans panic strategy being used by the defense during the prosecution presentation portion of the trial.


Frankly, I'm in reporter mode, so I'm a bit detached from the trial right now. But, in the back of my mind I can "feel" the images of the crime scene photos and video burned in my mind -- forever burned into my memory. I will never forget those images. I know I'll have my reaction to these "burned in" images later, when I'm back home in San Diego.

What had me irritated in the courtroom Friday, and still finds me irritated about now, is the trans panic (or gay panic) strategy -- a "crime of passion," "blame the victim" strategy -- being used in the court. It's apparent to me that the defense attorneys have schooled themselves on the "proper" way to run a trans panic strategy, as they used the word "duped" in the pretrial hearing, and now in the trial are using the more classic trans panic strategy term "deception." The defense attorney's are also following the trans panic strategy of never conceding that Angie was known as Angie, and never conceding that she was a young, teenage female. The defense attorneys instead always refer to her by her male name, and always refer to her by male pronouns.

I noticed something too that a trans woman like me would notice, but reporters like Sharon Dunn and Beth Karas hadn't noticed, but I pointed out to them why something from Angie's autopsy was highlighted. During cross examination of the Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) who attended the autopsy, the defense attorney questioning the CSI highlighted clothing that had been removed from Angie's body. These included a camisole, a bra, and "breast gels." The "breast gels" would be silicone breast forms. The reason the defense attorney's highlighted these are to use this information later to "prove" Angie "_____" (male name) wasn't a real woman -- they will no doubt argue "he" had to wear breast forms to create the "deception" that "he" had breasts.

This intentional trans panic/blame-the-victim strategy of always referring to Angie by her male name and by male pronouns was never more clear when Stephanie Zapata, Angie's sister, took the stand. Every time the defense attorney referred to Angie by male pronouns or by Angie's male name, Stephanie corrected her by saying "You mean my sister,..." or "You mean my sister Angie,..." -- Stephanie never gave an inch. I don't know how many times she forcefully corrected the defense attorney, but it was definitely significantly over a dozen times. And when Monica Zapata (also known as Monica Murguia) took the stand, she wasn't as forceful, but she consistently referred to Angie as Angie, and always referred to her as her sister, and by female pronouns.

All in all, five of Angie's relatives took the stand and only using the name Angie, and always referring to her by female pronouns. And, every time the defense attorney's questioned these five family members, they always referred to her by her male name, and always used male pronouns. Everyone was in the gallery that I talked to after the trial was done for the day Friday noticed it, and one even commented that the defense strategy of consistently referring to Angie by her male name and male pronouns when every family member, many visibly hurting at the loss of their sister/sister-in-law/offspring, were referring to Angie as Angie, and calling her by female pronouns. On person told me that it seemed "rude," and wondered if the strategy of antagonizing at least Stephanie Zapata, would backfire because it looked like such rude behavior. Gawds, I hope so.

Autumn Sandeen :: Are Trans People Like Angie And Me Deceptive?


Frankly though, I'm a lot like Angie. While I have changed my male name legally to Autumn back in 2003, I, like Angie, am a pre-operative transsexual. And, as Angie's sister Monica said she saw Angie always do to people to strangers she met who she realized she may see again -- especially men who appeared attracted to her and engaged her -- I out myself often and frequently to strangers I meet. And much like Angie, I have "passing privilege," and just as Angie had many young men interested in her, and flirting with her, since I lost that 135 pounds I have many 35-and-older men interested in me, and flirting with me. And, just as Angie was rarely read as trans, so too am I rarely read as trans. And just like Angie, I'm the number 4 child of 5 children.


If I were to be killed in Colorado -- or most other states in the United States, for that matter -- would my killer use a trans panic defense against me, saying, like Allen Ray Andrade's defense attorney's are saying about Angie, that I'm "deceptive"? When am I not "deceptive" in my life -- when I use women's restrooms? When my driver's license has an F as my gender marker? When I don't out myself to the grocery clerk or the coffee house barista? When I breathe?
The stunning reality is that my life, and the lives of my transgender peers, are worth less than the lives of those who fit into the gender binary. And, that's because if someone killed one of my peers or me, they can use a trans or gay panic, blame-the-victim strategy to say my peers or I have been "deceptive," and were killed because my peers or I were born with genitalia that didn't match our gender identity and/or gender expression.


It's a sobering thought.


And, what's so bizarre about this is that transgender status is a protected class under Colorado's Bias Motivated Crimes statute under the term sexual orientation. Specifically, sexual orientation is defined as follows:


"Sexual orientation" means a person's actual or perceived orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status.


The defense in the Angie Zapata Hate Crime Murder Trial is in effect using Angie's membership in a protected class to justify her killing. Think of it this way: If a white supremacist in Colorado dated a Jewish woman who hadn't disclosed this before the two had kissed intimately, and the white supremacist, in an alleged heat of passion moment, killed the Jewish woman because of her faith or her ethnicity. If the white supremacist's defense attorney argued before the jury that the Jewish woman was "deceptive" for not disclosing she was Jewish before the two kissed, do you believe that this defense would persuade a jury? Of course not -- being Jewish by faith or ethnicity would be protected classes under the Colorado. You can't successfully on one hand say that that faith and ethnicity are protected classes against bias motivated crimes, and then use the Jewish woman membership in a protected class as a defense.


And yet, with the gay panic and trans panic strategies of blaming the victim for being "deceptive," that's exactly what the defense is doing in the Angie Zapata Hate Crime Murder Trial; the defense is using Angie's transgender status to say she was being "deceptive" -- they are using Angie's membership in a protected class to blame her -- the victim -- for her own death.


What is the point of having a hate crime statute that includes transgender status in it's language if defendants and defense attorneys can use that membership in the transgender community as a reason to blame a victim for his or her own death? The same arguments that public defenders Annette Kundelius and Brad Martin are arguing before the jury to blame Angie for her own death apply to me too.


If someone were to kill me in Colorado (or most other states in the United States) this week, how much less would the sentence of my killer be if he or she said they killed me because I was being "deceptive" when I drank coffee at Café Woody's this morning? Or "deceptive" bought cheese sticks at the King Scoopers grocery store this afternoon? Or "deceptive" when I used the sink in an Olive Garden restaurant's women's restroom to clean my prescription rose colored glasses this evening?


Are trans people like Angie and me always to be considered "deceptive" wherever we go, and whatever we do?


I know the answers to all these questions. I'm not being deceptive. I am who I present myself to people I meet, even when I don't make it a point to out myself.


Angie wasn't deceptive either. Angie lived who she was. Justice for Angie should include the recognition she was a human being -- a human being who was loved, and is sorely missed by her family and friends. I just can't imagine that giving any credence to the idea that Angie's transgender status is in any way a justification for her killing would be justice for Angie.


Cross posted from 'Pam's House Blend' Autumn Sandeen :: Are Trans People Like Angie And Me Deceptive? in our effort to make public the Allen Ray Andrade murder trial of Angie Zapata.