Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Hate Crimes & Murder in Los Angeles

Posted on: April 20, 2009 at 7:02 a.m.

Violent crimes in Los Angeles require a sophisticated approach to by defense attorneys. The Los Angeles criminal defense attorneysat Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin have defended numerous violent crimes, including those involving "hate crime" status. Hate crimes add penalties to crimes, and make defending such crimes even more difficult.

An ongoing murder case in Greely, Colorado is attracting attention as one of the first murders to be prosecuted as a hate crime. Colorado is currently one of 11 states in which crimes related to gender identity are classified as hate crimes and carry enhanced sentencing penalties for convictions. Allen Andrade, 32, is currently facing life in prison after bludgeoning to death the transgendered Angie Zapata. Zapata was born a male and still legally named Justin when she met Andrade online in 2008. After several days of online communication, Zapata and Andrade agreed to meet in person. They had spent a few days together in Zapatas apartment when Andrade accompanied Zapata to Greely municipal court to take care of a traffic ticket. The traffic ticket was issued in the name of Justin Zapata and that, prosecutors argue, is when Andrade discovered that Zapata was biologically male. Andrades defense attorney insists that Andrade flew into a uncontrolled rage upon discovering Zapatas true biological identity and killed Zapata, using both his fists and a fire extinguisher.

The prosecution counters that Andrade knew of Zapatas gender identity for a full 36 hours and planned to kill Zapata during that time. Andrade has admitted to killing Zapata and made several disparaging comments about homosexuality and the transgendered. In Colorado, the hate crimes statutes would add up to three additional years in prison to Andrades sentence if convicted. National gay rights groups have followed this trial closely, saying it is the first trial in which hate crimes statutes have been used to prosecute the murder of a transgendered person. California is one of the 11 states with hate crimes laws protecting gender identities. Gender is defined by both the victims actual sex or the defendants perception of the victims sex. Sexual orientation is also legally protected and both involve enhanced sentencing if convicted.

If you have been accused of a hate crime or a violent crime, contact the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. Their combined 50 years of courtroom experience will fight hard to defend you.

Tagged as: jury trial defense


Christina Figueroa (UCLA) on June 3, 2009 at 8:25 a.m. wrote:

This case reminded me so much of the Gwen Araujo case in which Gwen also a transwoman, was beaten and killed by four men because she was transsexual. The men were convicted of murder/manslaughter however the conviction in this case was not categorized as a 'hate crime' conviction. I personally believe it should have, just the same way Zapata's was. Hate crimes do play a major role in our justice system because the reality is, many crimes (especially murders) are committed because of prejudices and biases. That is simply reality. Moreover, 'hate crime' statues ensure that no person is discriminated against or injured simply because of race, gender, disabilities, etc. I believe this story made headlines because aside from it being a sensationalistic crime, it shows a depiction of society's views on homosexuality and transgender. This case illustrates where America as a society stands today on the issue of gays. There is a reason why so many people (especially in California) are pushing for more gay rights; they fear cases like these will only escalate. Nevertheless, as previously stated, murder is murder, and bludgeoning is bludgeoning. Ms. Zapata was killed and that's all that matters when sentencing Andrade. However, the fact that she was killed because she was transsexual does provoke the debate of whether additional punishment should be considered. I guess the question would then have to apply to all similar cases of hate crimes. In today's society, do people view the beating and killing of a Black/Hispanic/Asian person or that of an autistic child the same way the view that of a transsexual?

Jennifer Phan on May 29, 2009 at 12:01 p.m. wrote:

The previous post did pose a different perspective on hate crimes. It is true that not all offenders and/or crimes committed are the same, it is absolutely necessary to prosecute offenders in correlation with the type of crime committed, hate crime or not. While it is true that a murder is a murder and a burglary is a burglary, it is also possible that prejudices and biases on race, gender, disabilities, and any other protected group lead perpetuators to commit malicious crimes against innocent people. It proves their motivations for committing the crime in question because not everyone thinks, acts, and looks the same. The purpose of categorizing hate crimes in the first place is to 1. Promote advocacy for abused innocent individuals and 2. Deter such crime and or violent acts from spawning. Without hate crime statues in place, America would not be as tolerant of differences as it is today. A prime example would be the Vincent Chin case where an innocent Chinese-American man was brutally assaulted and murdered because of the color of his skin. Another example would be the Joseph Ileto case. A postal worker was gunned down while fulfilling his duties as a mailman. Moreover, we must also take into account the historical cases in the south involving the lynching of African-Americans. As you can see from the days of the civil rights movement to the present, there have been a number of hate crimes committed by various individuals and/or groups. Although the situation involving differences between people remain difficult to resolve till this day, we all drink from the same fountain.

Theresa Fiddler on May 25, 2009 at 4:40 p.m. wrote:

I think it is ridiculous that 'hate crimes' even exist. Murder is murder, violence is violence, bludgeoning is bludgeoning. It should not matter the gender, gender identity or sexual orientation of the victim. A person who kills a gay man should be subjected to the same punishment as a person who kills a straight man. Laws such as those which institute ' hate crimes' put certain people in priveleged categories and imply that their lives are more valuable than others by instituting greater punishment when certain 'types' of people are injured. All personal information concerning a person's identity should be irrelevant when it is time to sentence the perpetrator for punishing offenders who commit acts against homosexuals and transgendered folks more harshly than offenders who commit acts against straight men and women puts non-privleged groups at an elevated risk because offenders know the punishment for committing crimes against them is not as harsh. The quest for justice and the institution of punishments should be the same for all offenders who commit similar crimes regardless of the identity or orientation of their victims.

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