A Denver man who used an AK-47 to kill a woman and injure a man while the couple was walking their dog near Coors Field was found guilty of first-degree murder on Thursday.
Michael Close, 38, knew what he was doing when he killed Isabella Thallas, 21, and twice shot her boyfriend, Darian Simon, on June 10, 2020, while encouraging their dog to defecate outside Close’s apartment near Coors Field , the jury concluded .
Close had pleaded not guilty to insanity.
The jury also convicted him on an additional count of first degree murder in connection with Thallas’ death, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault.
Close sat with head bowed and cried as the verdict was read. A deputy has handcuffed him after the jury left the courtroom.
Members of Thallas’ family also cried when they heard the verdict. Ana Thallas, Isabella’s mother, said on Thursday that she felt numb.
“We waited 2.5 years for this day and what happened in there just passed by… almost as fast as my daughter was slaughtered,” she said through tears as she stood outside the courtroom. “And our lives were changed forever.”Read:Fetterman campaign walks back apparent call to ‘free’ every convicted second-degree murderer
The jury deliberated for a few hours Wednesday afternoon and through Thursday before a juror was excused and an alternate juror seated. The deliberations then started on Thursday at about 11:15 a.m. and ended around 2:00 p.m.
Jurors rejected the defense’s argument that Close was criminally insane at the time of the unprovoked attack.
Deputy public defender Sonja Prins had argued that Close had a mental break before committing the shooting, pointing to his traumatic and violent childhood, a string of recent job cuts, a breakup and the COVID-19 pandemic contributing to his poor mental health. at that moment.
Denver District Attorney’s Office prosecutors said Close was healthy during the attack. Close first yelled out his window at the couple as they urged their dog to go “potty,” then went into another room, retrieved an AK-47 he stole from a friend who was a police sergeant in Denver, returned to the window and started shooting.
He fired 24 times, prosecutors said. Thallas was hit in the back and died instantly; Simon was shot twice. He ran away from the scene until he collapsed not far away.Read:Military releases cockpit video of bird strike before Navy jet crash in Texas neighborhood in 2021
After the shooting, Close called his ex-girlfriend and confessed that he “just killed two people,” she testified. He then left his apartment and drove west into the mountains with both the AK-47 and a pistol. He was apprehended and arrested that night on Highway 285 in Jefferson County.
Isabella Thallas’ father, Joshua Thallas, said the conviction did not feel like a victory.
“There is no justice here,” he said. “…There are so many losses everywhere. Our family, of course, lost Bella’s friends, lost the community, even Close’s family lost today because of his bad choices.
Close will be sentenced on November 4. He faces a mandatory life sentence.