Angie Zapata murder trial – has the trans panic defence been undermined?

April 17, 2009

Light a candle for AngieVia the Greeley Tribune:

Deputy District Attorney Brandi Lynn Nieto told the jury that Andrade knew for 36 hours Angie was biologically male. He even attended a court hearing for a traffic ticket where clerks called for the case against “Justin Zapata.”

That being the case, then Mr Andrade’s attempt to escape prosecution by using the trans panic defence is surely untenable, because that defence is founded on the assertion that a murderer committed a crime of passion, in the heat of the moment, immediately after discovering the victim’s full history.

If Mr Andrade knew 36 hours ahead of delivering that fatal attack (and let us remember he has previously admitted this) – then it cannot possibly be a spontaneous reaction to what Mr Andrade considered an unpalatable fact. I do not see how it can be anything other than premeditated.

ETA: There are useful analyses of the trans panic defense by Holly at Feministe (link here) and by Dr Jillian T. Weiss at The Bilerico Project (link here)

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8 Responses to “Angie Zapata murder trial – has the trans panic defence been undermined?”

  1. queenemily Says:

    *hopes that this goose.. is cooked*

  2. msruthmoss Says:

    Oh please to goodness I hope he doesn’t get away with using that bullshit defence now – of course, half the point is, even if he hadn’t “known” he should never ever have been able to get off with that kind of defence. But now there is no way.

  3. queen emily Says:

    Yeah, well that’s the thing. It’s not like, oh it’s *otherwise* acceptable but not applicable here. Killing someone cos they don’t have the genitals you expect is just not ok, and it shouldn’t be legitimated as legal.

    Of course, juries see it differently. It’s perfectly fine to use it, and to use other dehumanising and ungendering strategies, like the defense using male pronouns all the way.

  4. msruthmoss Says:

    See, the thought that juries would see it differently really worries me.

    I mean, I could “get” someone saying “I’m sorry but I’ve changed my mind” if the person you fancy doesn’t have the genitals you expect (although… if you like them enough, should it *really* matter that much?) but not brutally murdering them.

    The defence using male pronouns is particularly upsetting it really feels like they’re trampling on everyone’s memories of her. Particularly her family. Like, isn’t it already heartbreaking enough for them they have to live every day now without their sister, daughter, auntie… but now they have to have some smarmy arsed lawyer constantly referring to her as “male”?

    There should be some kind of legal protection against this, like in the way that the defence is not allowed to bring up a rape victim’s sexual history (not that it stops them but it isn’t allowed iyswim) defence lawyers shouldn’t be able to bring up a trans person’s birth assigned sex during any trial of this nature.

  5. queenemily Says:

    Juries do see it differently a lot of the time, but not all. Very very occasionally they get it right. Even still, “trans panic” continues to be allowed as a defence, and does get acquittals and reduced sentences, no doubt.

    So yeah, I completely agree about not mentioning a trans person’s gender history, and especially not in such an inflammatory way. At present, it’s just pandering to transphobic prejudice and presenting it that as “fact.”

    (I did post a rant about the pronoun ungendering at QT if you’re interested)

  6. Helen G Says:

    queenemily: (I did post a rant about the pronoun ungendering at QT if you’re interested)

    And here’s the link

  7. msruthmoss Says:

    Will go & read.


  8. […] good news is that the prosecution has dropped an important bombshell — they’re making the claim that Andrade knew of Angie’s trans status for 36 hours prior to….  If they can convince the jury of this, they have negated the defense’s argument that […]


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