A Denver man has been convicted of murder for using an AK-47 to shoot and kill a 21-year-old woman after her dog defecated outside her apartment.
Michael Close, 38, had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but a jury found him guilty of the shooting on Thursday after finding he knew what he was doing when he shot Isabella Thallas and injured her baby friend, Darian Simon, the Denver Post reported.
Denver DA Beth McCann said in a prepared statement that she was “thrilled” her office was able to achieve justice for the victims.
Prosecutors alleged Close had a ‘verbal exchange’ with Thallas and Simon as they encouraged their dog, Rocko, to relieve himself in a rock garden outside Close’s apartment on Huron Street near Coors Field on June 10, 2020.
Close shouted out the window at the couple as they urged the pup to ‘potty’.
“Are you going to train that goddamn dog or just yell at it?” Close said, according to Denver police homicide investigator Joseph Trujillo.
Close then grabbed the AK-47, which he had taken from a friend who was a Denver police sergeant, and fired 24 shots.
Thallas was punched in the back and died at the scene just two days after celebrating her birthday. Her boyfriend was injured in the leg and buttocks.
After the shooting, Close got into his Mercedes SUV with the AK-47 and a handgun and drove away, but was arrested during a traffic stop later that day.
Close’s public defender Sonja Prins said he suffered from a mental breakdown, saying an abusive childhood, a series of job losses, a breakup and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to his poor mental health at the time of the shooting.
Close wept when the verdict was announced after less than a day of deliberations, as did members of Thallas’ family who attended the hearing.
Thallas’s mother, Anna Thallas, said afterwards that she felt numb.
“We’ve been waiting for this day for two and a half years and what happened in there has passed…almost as quickly as my daughter was slaughtered,” she said in tears. “And our lives were changed forever.”
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 losses caused by the “bad choices ” from Close.
Close faces a life sentence when he is sentenced on November 4.