“Provoking Smile” Defense Rejected in Murder Case

Jim Burroway

September 19th, 2008

We’ve had some strange defense excuses in LGBT murder hate crime cases, excuses which often amount to blaming the victim. But the most outrageous example has to be this one: a defendant in a Denver-area murder case who complained that “she smiled at me.”

Yesterday, Weld County (Colorado) District Judge Marcelo Kopcow ruled against a motion to lower the charge in the case of murdered transwoman Angie Zapata from first degree murder to second degree murder. Her killers lawyers contended that the defendant, Allen Andrade, was provoked into killing her when she smiled at him:

Only when Andrade grabbed at Zapata’s crotch did he discover the truth. But when she smiled at him and said, “I’m all woman,” it drove an enraged Andrade to commit murder, attorney Annette Kundelius said.

“At best, this is a case about passion,” Kundelius said. “When (Zapata) smiled at him, this was a highly provoking act, and it would cause someone to have an aggressive reaction.”

Judge Kopcow ruled against the request, citing evidence that Andrade killed Angie deliberately, hitting her several times with a fire extinguisher. He also expressed anger against gays while in custody, and repeatedly referred to Angie as “it.” Judge Kopcow also declined to drop the hate crime charge in connection with the felony.

rev byrd tetzlaff

September 21st, 2008

One can only hope that Judge Kopcow will be removed from office speedily.

Timothy Kincaid

September 21st, 2008

Rev Tetzlaff,

I think you may have misread.

Judge Kopcow protected the honor of the victim and refused to allow her murderer to use a “it smiled at me” defense. The judge was the good guy in this situation.

Yuki Choe

September 21st, 2008

And any decent human being in this world will agree that a person who calls himself “REV” should think carefully before parroting such justification, just because the DEATH and MURDER of a transgender PERSON seemed to be insignificant compared to his presumed prejudice of transwomen.

A murderer who KILL and DEHUMANIZE another fellow human being, calling the person “IT”. REV, you are advocating blatant hate murder by agreeing to a lighter sentence? What are you thinking.


September 21st, 2008

I’m glad that the blame-the-victim “transgender panic” defense apparently isn’t working in court anymore.

Timothy Kincaid

September 22nd, 2008


I believe that Rev. Tetzlaff did not intend to suggest that this defense was appropriate. Byrd Tetzlaff has long been an advocate for the GLBT community and unless someone else is using her identity, I believe she just misread the story.

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