Zapata v. Colorado

Petitioner Nicholas Zapata and Jose Murillo entered a convenience store. Murillo darted behind the checkout counter, where he used a knife to attack the clerk, the only other person in the store. Zapata watched the attack from the other side of the counter. The victim quickly managed to subdue Murillo with a hammer that happened to be located behind the counter. With that unexpected turn of events, Zapata fled. The State charged Zapata with attempted first degree murder and other crimes. At trial, the State asserted Zapata orchestrated the attack, painting a picture of a jealous and controlling Zapata, seeking revenge on behalf of his ex-girlfriend, S.M. S.M. worked in the convenience store and had confided in Zapata several weeks earlier that her boss, the store owner and father of the victim, had sexually harassed her. The State argued that Zapata convinced Murillo to do his dirty work in seeking revenge, but at the store, they confused the son for his father. The jury convicted Zapata of attempted second degree murder and first degree assault. Zapata seeks a new trial because the trial court declined to give him access to, or to review in camera, certain competency reports regarding Murillo (who suffered brain damage as a result of the hammer blows). Zapata alleged the reports might have contained exculpatory information about the criminal offenses of which he was convicted. He also argued the trial court committed reversible error when it admitted “res gestae” evidence of Zapata’s earlier threatening behavior toward S.M. A division of the court of appeals affirmed Zapata’s convictions, and finding no reversible error, the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed. View "Zapata v. Colorado" on Justia Law