Live blog: The Angie Zapata trial, April 17

Categories: Colorado Crimes

angie zapata im age.jpg
Angie Zapata.

Editor's note: Melanie Asmar is live blogging the Greeley trial of Allen Andrade, the man charged with murdering Angie Zapata, a transgender teen. Look for updates here -- and click this link to catch up on Asmar's coverage of the proceedings on day one, April 16. To catch up with the day's proceedings, read from the bottom up.

4:10 p.m.: Murguia is done testifying. Court is recessed for the day. It will resume Monday.

3:55 p.m.: On cross-examination, defense attorney Kundelius is grilling Murguia about the family's acceptance of Zapata's gender identity. Zapata's brother still called Zapata "Justin."

Kundelius is also asking Murguia about whether she often warned Zapata to be careful. "I would tell Angie, 'Straight men are after you, Ang. Make sure you tell them that you're not a girl,'" Murguia says. Murguia says Zapata had "a lot of males after her." But, Murguia says, Angie did tell everybody who she was.

3:50 p.m.: Murguia is talking about how Zapata was popular. "I don't think one day went by that Angie wouldn't meet somebody," she says. "She'd go into Wal-Mart and people would approach her. She'd go into a club, people would approach her. On MocoSpace, on MySpace."

Zapata and Andrade met on MocoSpace, lawyers say. Murguia says Zapata never referred to Andrade by name. She just referred to him as a friend who would be living with her because his mom was kicking him out. She didn't call him a boyfriend, Murguia says.

3:35 p.m.: Murguia is identifying her credit card, which was found in her PT Cruiser when Andrade was arrested. Murguia says she had loaned the car and the card to Zapata.

3:25 p.m.: Murguia, who is 33 and has been composed and clear on the stand until now, has broken down. She's putting her hands up to her face and crying. When she takes her hands down, her face is quivering and her brow is furrowed as she describes finding Zapata's body.

"When I got closer to her, I see that there's a spot on the blanket," Murguia says, whimpering. "A spot of blood on her blanket by her head. I went and picked it up and the blanket stuck to her face because the blood's dried. And I take the blanket off of her and my sister's face was swollen and her face was smashed in. And I went to go get her and her body was hard." At that point, she says, she was screaming, Ashley was screaming and Ashley's baby was screaming. She says she called 911.

3:20 p.m.: Monica Murguia, Zapata's oldest sister, is testifying. Zapata worked for Murguia as a babysitter for her three kids. On July 17, the day after Zapata was killed, Murguia says that her sister didn't show up to babysit.

Murguia says she enlisted their sister Ashley to look for Zapata.

3:05 p.m.: Maricella Meza, another of Zapata's friends, is testifying. She says Zapata was at her house on July 16, the day Zapata was murdered. She says they ate dinner together.

Meza says she asked Zapata to stay the night, but Zapata said she couldn't because an older guy was staying at her apartment. Zapata said she needed to check on him because there was no food at the apartment. Zapata told Meza she was going to have the guy stay at her apartment, help pay one of her bills and then "get rid of him."

2:55 p.m.: Felicia Lune, Zapata's best friend, is testifying. Prosecutors are showing her several purses in evidence bags. She says she recognizes them as Zapata's purses. Prosecutors say Andrade ransacked Zapata's apartment after murdering her, stole her purses and later gave them to his girlfriend.

2:45 p.m.: Villalobos is in a pronoun war with defense attorney Kundelius, who is referring to Zapata as "Justin." Every time Kundelius asks a question about "Justin," Villalobos refers to Zapata as her sister. For example: "You couldn't find Justin?" Kundelius asks about the day after Zapata was murdered. "We couldn't find my sister," says Villalobos.

2:40 p.m.: Villalobos says she text messaged with her sister often in the days before her murder. She says the last time Zapata texted her was around 9 p.m. on July 16, the day Zapata died.

2:38 p.m.: Zapata's 23-year-old sister, Stephanie Villalobos, is testifying. She says Zapata always acted like a female, even when she was little. She didn't like to play with cars and she would wrap a baby blanket around her head and pretend it was hair.

2:28 p.m.: On cross-examination, one of Andrade's defense attorneys asks Maria Zapata if she was familiar with her son Justin's day-to-day activities. Zapata says Angie told her a lot of stuff but would hide some things.

2:20 p.m.: Zapata's mother, Maria Zapata, has just taken the stand.

"She carried herself as a woman. She was beautiful. She was beautiful," Maria Zapata says, choking back tears. She says that when Zapata first told her about her decision to live as a woman, she was worried. "I knew people would stare. I knew people would talk about her. I wanted to protect her from that cruelty," she says.

2:05 p.m.: Ashley Zapata, who is 21 and has long black hair, is tearfully describing how she and her sister Monica found Zapata's body on July 17, 2008. "I thought she was sleeping," she says in a shaky voice between sniffles of the moment she first saw Zapata's body on the floor, covered by a blanket. "I didn't think she was dead. I just thought she needed help."

1:55 p.m.: Zapata's sister, Ashely Zapata, is testifying. She is describing the family. She says there are six siblings and Angie was the fifth youngest. She says Zapata was born male and named Justin but the family referred to her as Angie. The prosecutor asks why. "That's what she wanted," Ashley Zapata says.

1:48 p.m.: Jill Mitchell, regional manager for Academy Bank, is testifying about the elements of a bank statement for Zapata's sister's account. Prosecutors say Andrade stole Monica Murguia's credit card and used it in the days after the murder. Mitchell isn't talking about any specific purchases; instead, she is describing how to read the bank statement.

1:38 p.m.: Court has resumed. Judge Kopcow says the trial will go until 4 p.m. today, without an afternoon break.

11:49 a.m.: The court is on a lunch break until 1:30 p.m.

11:42 a.m.: Defense attorney Kundelius is cross examining Martinez. Kundelius keeps referring to Zapata as "Justin" and calling Zapata "he." Martinez, who is young and has long black hair, is choking up. She's looking to one side, as if trying to hold back tears and her voice is shaking.

11:40 a.m.: Miranda Martinez is now on the stand. She knew Zapata since the third grade and is in a relationship with Zapata's sister, Stephanie. She says Zapata started asking to be called "Angie" when she was a fourteen or fifteen. She says Zapata had long hair, wore girls' clothes and carried a purse.

She says she talked to Zapata every day. On July 14, Martinez says Zapata came to her and Stephanie's house to borrow $10 or $20 for gas so she could pick up a male friend in Thornton.

11:25 a.m.: Knott is done testifying. The jurors, who seemed like they needed a break, just got one. There is a five-minute recess while the prosecution tries to locate another witness.

11:20 a.m.: Greeley Homicide Detective Duff Knott is now on the stand. He says he was at the crime scene and later interviewed Zapata's family. Based on what they told him, he contacted the municipal court in Greeley, where a bailiff told him Zapata had been recently with a man. The bailiff gave Knott a description of the man.

11:05 a.m.: It's the defense's turn: Defense attorney Annette Kundelius is cross-examining Buckingham, asking about the autopsy and what Buckingham collected from the body. She's referring to Zapata as "Justin," Zapata's given name. Zapata went by the name "Angie."

"You also collected some clothing from Justin Zapata that he was wearing when he died?" she asks. Buckingham says yes. She then lists some of the clothing: a camisole, a bra and a pair of breast gels. Defense attorneys are making repeated references to how Zapata appeared to be female.

11 a.m.: Clay Buckingham, the Greeley Police Officer, says a fire extinguisher was found on the median of Highway 34 in Greeley on September 9. The extinguisher -- which prosecutors claim Andrade used to bludgeon Zapata to death in her apartment -- was momentarily visible from the gallery, wrapped in an evidence bag. It's now tucked away in a box.

10:47 a.m.: The judge, a legal pad shielding his mouth from jurors, is discussing privately with the lawyers whether to admit into evidence a two-page handwritten note found in Zapata's PT Cruiser, which Andrade was sitting in when he was arrested. Prosecutors want to admit it but Andrade's attorneys say it's not relevant.

The ruling: The note will not be allowed.

10:35 a.m.: Buckingham is back on the stand. He says he was there when Andrade was arrested in Thornton on July 30, two weeks after Zapata was killed. He says he took evidence from Andrade, including cheek cells, fingerprints and pubic hairs. He says he noticed that Andrade's pubic hairs were short, as if he had shaved them and they were growing back.

10:20 a.m.: The court is coming back after a ten-minute morning break. Andrade is being led back to the defense table with his hands handcuffed behind his back. He's wearing a dark blue dress shirt and a tie, and black pants. Now sitting at the table, he's eating something and drinking water from a small paper cup.

10 a.m.: Prosecutors wanted to show photos of Zapata's autopsy, including photos of Zapata's face with her skin pulled back and the inside of her skull cap, on the flat-screen TV to the entire courtroom. Andrade's defense attorneys objected. Judge Marcelo Kopcow came up with a compromise, ruling that the photos would be shown to the jury on TV monitors only they can see.

The jury is looking at the photos now. If they're reacting, they're doing it silently, behind stoic faces.

9:50 a.m.: The photos are being shown to the jury on the flat-screen TV, as Buckingham describes them. The photo of the forty-ounce Budweiser bottles in the sink shows the bottles laying length-wise, stacked neatly. Buckingham says when he processed the bottles for fingerprints, he found that they had been washed off. A bottle of rum and a bottle of vodka on top of the fridge had also been wiped down, he says.

Some of the evidence shown in the photos, such as the gray blanket and the pink vibrator, are in the courtroom in evidence bags. Buckingham held up the vibrator for the jury to see.

9:35 a.m.: Buckingham is describing several photographs of the crime scene, including photos of Zapata's dead body, the blood-stained blanket, a pink vibrator on the floor next to the mattress, four empty forty-ounce bottles of Budweiser in the kitchen sink, an empty metal bracket on the kitchen wall and a cigarette butt on the windowsill.

9:20 a.m.: The courtroom is dark as a video of the crime scene plays on a flat-screen TV facing the jury. It shows Zapata, dressed in black pants and a white shirt and wearing her long black hair down, lying dead next to a bare twin mattress on the brown carpet of her living room. There is a rumpled, blood-stained gray blanket at the foot of the mattress.

Her apartment looks neat and feminine. There are posters and mirrors on the white walls. There's a white teddy bear with a red bow around its neck sitting under a glass-topped coffee table. Her bathroom is decorated in red, white and black and her shampoo bottles are lined up neatly. There are empty beer bottles stacked in an orderly way in the sink.

9:05 a.m.: The trial has resumed. It's raining in Greeley but not snowing. The courtroom is significantly less full than yesterday. Andrade's family appears to be here, as well as some of Zapata's friends and family. Others are witnesses and can't be in the courtroom.

Greeley Police Officer Clay Buckingham is on the stand. He is describing the crime scene. He says Zapata was lying face up on the carpeted living room floor next to a mattress. There were blood spatters on the carpet near the victim's head, he says.


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