Angie Zapata murder – possible sentences

April 19, 2009

Over at Pam’s House Blend, Autumn Sandeen has an interesting post – What Does “Justice For Angie” Mean? – about the possible sentences that could be handed down to Allen Andrade should he be found guilty of Angie Zapata’s murder. I recommend reading the whole article – link here – which arose after a lengthy discussion that Autumn had with Beth Karas (Senior Reporter with Court TV and formerly an assistant district attorney in New York City). Ms Karas explained ‘what the prosecutor is aiming for, what the defense is aiming for, and the punishments would be for the for just the murder change’.

All of which is an absorbing read of itself, but I was interested to note a distinction that Autumn draws, between ‘justice for Angie’ and ‘justice for the broader community’:

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 according to Angie’s family. […]

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.

The sentence that Autumn refers to as being justice in the eyes of Angie’s family is what’s termed an F1 sentence – life without for parole for first degree murder. However, there are two lesser felony charges, F2 and F3, which – depending on whether the habitual offender enhancement is included – could range from 10 years to 96 years.

As Autumn notes:

[…] 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.

In other words, justice for Angie may not necessarily equate to justice for the trans community – and there could conceivably be significant longer-term repercussions for the trans community if a conviction excludes the bias motivated crime count:

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.


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia)


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2 Responses to “Angie Zapata murder – possible sentences”

  1. msruthmoss Says:

    I just wonder how on earth this could be not a hate crime? What would it take for this to have been a hate crime? And if her murder isn’t considered a hate crime, doesn’t that give carte blanche to people like her killer to get away with things like this?

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