April 23, 2009
Guilty verdict in Angie Zapata murder trial
Yesterday Allen Ray Andrade, the man who brutally killed Angie Zapata, was found guilty on all four of the counts with which he was charged, which included first degree murder and bias-motivated crime. The jurors rejected the “trans panic” defense (the idea that Andrade killed Zapata in a fit of angry passion after discovering that she was trans). It breaks my heart that, as much as the verdict may feel like justice, it won’t bring Angie back. Nevertheless, I’m stunned — in a good way — that the jury found him guilty.
Autumn Sandeen’s coverage of the trial over at Pam’s House Blend has been excellent: here are some highlights. And so Pam’s post from this morning struck me as important: why has the mainstream media been paying more attention to Autumn’s coverage than the GLB(t) media has?
Again, what does that say about the LGBT community — when hate crimes legislation in the headlines — that the coverage of this trial has been largely disconnected from it? Are we seeing the short shrift given to trans issues generally playing itself out again or is that an overstatement? Not out of malice, mind you, but simply benign neglect.
But the larger question that I cannot answer is why would our LGB media not take advantage of news gathering from “one of our own” on the ground rather than an AP wire story, or at least feature both? There may be a few factors at work, but it would be only my speculation — 1) Autumn is merely a “citizen journalist” or blogger, so that doesn’t merit treatment as a “source” for our LGBT media; and 2) it never occurred to them to use her (no one can claim ignorance of her being on the ground in Greeley, given the listservs I’m on). Autumn was writing and tweeting right next to Court TV and the rest of the MSM, and all relied on her for information.
Is a recently murdered Angie Zapata viewed as less useful to the cause than Matthew Shepard, for instance? Does the lurid nature of the heinous crime make it appear less sympathetic in some way to media decisionmakers, who feel mainstream (read: straight) audiences will identify less with a Latina transgender victim than one who is a blond gay white young man? Honestly, if it’s the latter, you’d get no one to admit it anyway, because, well, that would be callous, right?
Good questions, those.