In Zapata case, sixty years added to murderer's life sentence

Allen Andrade will likely spend the rest of his life in jail. A judge today added 60 years to the life sentence he received for killing transgender Greeley teen Angie Zapata last summer, piling on time for lesser crimes the 32-year-old committed in connection with the murder.

Andrade was convicted last month of first-degree murder for beating Zapata to death in her apartment. He was also convicted of aggravated motor vehicle theft for stealing her sister's PT Cruiser from outside Zapata's apartment afterward, and of identity theft, for using a credit card he found inside the car to buy gas. The jury also convicted him of a bias-motivated crime, finding that he killed Zapata because she was biologically male.

Those weren't Andrade's first crimes. He had six prior felony convictions for offenses such as lying to a pawn broker, theft and possession of contraband.

In a short trial this afternoon, Judge Marcelo Kopcow dubbed Andrade a "habitual criminal." Because of his habitual-criminal status, Andrade's sentences for the auto theft, identity theft and bias-motivated crime were quadrupled, adding up to 60 additional years to his sentence.

In delivering Andrade's sentence, Kopcow said that many criminals don't have the intelligence or tools to succeed in life. "What I think is a tragedy is you do," he said to Andrade, his wrists shackled and head hung low. "For whatever reason, you have chosen to hurt people instead of being productive in society."

Andrade's lawyer, Annette Kundelius, argued that Andrade should be allowed to serve the 60 years concurrently with his life sentence, instead of having them tacked onto the end of it. To bolster her argument, she pointed out that none of his prior crimes was violent. Plus, she said, he has a loving and supportive family.

"Mr. Andrade's life cannot be summed up just by this one act," she said. "There is so much more to Mr. Andrade. I think it's unfair that the media doesn't get an opportunity to know Mr. Andrade, and there's been a portrayal of Mr. Andrade as an evil, horrible monster. And he's not.

"There are a number of things I respect and admire about Mr. Andrade," she added. "While he's done something I don't think anybody agrees with, I think Mr. Andrade would agree this was not the best day of his life. It was not the best decision he ever made. But it happened."

Zapata's mother, Maria Zapata, also addressed the court. "This person -- and I say it nicely, your honor -- took my baby away from me," she said, her voice shaking. "I will never, ever be able to touch her, to talk to her. The only way I see her is in pictures or at the grave site."

She then spun around to face Andrade. "And I ask: Why? Why? Why?" she said, raising her voice so much that Kundelius asked the judge to stop her. "It's just so much anger. They tell me to forgive is the first step. I can't. I can't right now."

Tina Blea -- a longtime friend of Zapata's sister, Monica Murguia -- read a statement from Murguia, as Murguia sobbed in the gallery. It talked about how the Zapata children didn't grow up rich, how they didn't have a big house or fancy clothes. What they had, she said, was each other.

"My family is all I have ever had," Murguia wrote. "It was the one thing I held closest to me and it has been changed forever."

Murguia reminisced about how her sister stood up to bullies at school, how she spent her money on Baby Phat jeans, how she loved Murguia's son Diego as her own. "How do you explain to your children that what happened was, in another person's eyes, justified?" Murguia wrote. "That because your aunt was different, it was allowable?"

"I only hope the worst for you, Mr. Andrade," she wrote. "You should die in prison."

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar

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