A man was found guilty more than two years ago of murdering a woman and seriously injuring her boyfriend after a dispute over their dog that robbed itself outside the man’s apartment.
A jury in Denver, Colorado found Michael Close guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault, following the death of Isabella Thallas, 9News reported.
Close’s sentencing is set for Nov. 4, when he faces a mandatory life sentence, according to The Denver Post. The 38-year-old pleaded not guilty to insanity following the fatal incident on June 10, 2020.
The shooting took place in the Ballpark District of downtown Denver when Close used an AK-47 to shoot Mrs. Thallas, who had just turned 21. The two dozen bullets that came out of the apartment window were also aimed at her boyfriend Darian Simon, according to 9News.
Mr Simon was beaten twice, The Denver Post reported. While he was able to run away before collapsing, Mrs. Thallas was struck in the back and died instantly.
Close’s legal team argued that he was criminally insane at the time of the attack, but the jury found that he was aware of his actions when he fired at the couple when they allegedly urged their pet to defecate outside his apartment.
Ana Thallas, whose daughter was murdered, told reporters that “we waited two and a half years for this day and what happened there just passed…almost as fast as my daughter was slaughtered”.
“Our lives have changed forever,” she says.
Deputy public defender Sonja Prins argued that Close had a nervous breakdown prior to the murder, citing his childhood experiences of trauma and abuse. She also mentioned a number of job losses, a breakup and the pandemic all of which had a negative impact on his mental state in the summer of 2020.
Prosecutors argued that Close was healthy at the time of the shooting. He first yelled at the couple from his window when they told their dog to “go potty,” according to… The Denver Post.
Prosecutors said the murder was a “rage-motivated mission out of respect” and that the couple were unaware they were outside Close’s apartment when they urged their pet to go to the bathroom.
“Are you just going to yell at that dog or train him?” Close yelled at the couple, prosecutors said, according to 9News.
“Mind your own business, Rocko is a good dog,” Simon replied, prompting Close to grab his gun, prosecutors said. He picked up an AK-47 that he had stolen from a friend who was a police sergeant and started firing when he returned to the window.
Close’s ex-girlfriend testified in court that he called her after the shooting and said he “just killed two people”.
He left his house and drove into the mountains with the rifle and pistol. He was apprehended later that same night as he descended Highway 285 in Jefferson County.
Mrs. Thallas’ father, Joshua Thallas, told the press that “there is no justice in this”.
“There are so many losses everywhere. Our family, obviously, lost Bella’s friends, lost the community, even Close’s family lost today because of his poor choices,” added Mr. Thallas, according to The Denver Post.