A Denver man has been found guilty of murder for using an AK-47 to shoot and kill a 21-year-old woman after her dog pooped outside his apartment.
Michael Close, 38, had pleaded not guilty to insanity, but a jury convicted him on Thursday of the shooting after concluding that he knew what he was doing when he shot Isabella Thallas and injured her boyfriend, Darian Simon, the Denver Post reported.
Denver DA Beth McCann said in a prepared statement she was “elated” that her office was able to get justice for the victims.
Prosecutors alleged that Close had a “verbal exchange” with Thallas and Simon while encouraging their dog, Rocko, to relieve themselves in a rock garden outside Close’s apartment on Huron Street near Coors Field on June 10, 2020.
Close yelled out the window at the couple as they urged the pup to go potty.
“Are you going to train that damn dog or just yell at him?” Close said, according to Police Detective Joseph Trujillo of the Denver Police Department.Read:McConnell endorses bill to prevent efforts to subvert presidential election results
Close then grabbed the AK-47, which he had taken from a friend who was a police sergeant in Denver, and fired 24 rounds.
Thallas was beaten in the back and died on the spot just two days after celebrating her birthday. Her boyfriend was injured in his leg and buttocks.
After the shooting, Close got into his Mercedes SUV with the AK-47 and a handgun and fled, but was arrested during a traffic stop later that day.
Close’s public defender Sonja Prins said he had suffered a mental breakdown, claiming that a violent childhood, a series of job cuts, a breakup and the COVID-19 pandemic were contributing to his poor mental health at the time of the shooting.
Close wept as the verdict was announced after less than a day of deliberation, as did members of Thallas’ family who attended the hearing.
Thallas’ mother, Anna Thallas, said afterwards that she felt numb.Read:Footage shows Trump allies handling Georgia voting equipment
“We waited two and a half years for this day and what happened in there just passed…almost as fast as my daughter was slaughtered,” she said through tears. “And our lives were changed forever.”Read:Infant dies after being left in hot car, Jacksonville police say
Ana later tweeted that hearing the click of the handcuffs was “music to my ears”.
Isabella’s father, Joshua Thallas, told reporters outside the courtroom that “there is no justice in this” compared to the amount of damage caused by Close’s “bad choices.”
Close faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted on Nov. 4.