A Colorado man was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday for using an AK-47 to fatally gun down a woman and wound a man after their dog relieved itself outside of his apartment near Coors Field, the Denver District Attorney announced in a statement.
A Denver jury deliberated for less than a day when it found Michael Close, 38, guilty of murdering Isabella Thallas, 21, and attempting to murder Darian Simon when he shot them near his apartment in the city’s Ballpark area on June 10, 2020, the District Attorney said in the statement.
Close was found guilty of one count of first-degree murder — extreme indifference, two counts of attempt to commit first-degree murder, and two counts of first-degree assault, the District Attorney said in the statement.
Close had pleaded guilty by reason of insanity in Thallas’s death.
During the trial, Close’s lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Sonja Prins, argued that his client was criminally insane when he started shooting at the couple. The Denver Post reports.
Recent job losses, a bad breakup and dealing with the pandemic led Close to suffer a mental break when he shot at the couple, Prins argued, according to The Denver Post.
But in handing down the guilty verdict, including convicting him of carrying out the shooting with “deliberation” and “extreme indifference,” the jury ruled that Close knew what he was doing when he shot the couple.
“We’ve been waiting 2½ years for this day,” Thallas’s mother, Ana Thallas, said in tears after leaving court. The Denver Post reports.
Her daughter turned 21 just two days before she was killed.
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According to the District Attorney’s statement, on June 10, 2020, “Thallas and Simon were walking their dog when Close began a verbal exchange with them over a command they used to have their dog defecate.”
The dog was defecating close to Close’s apartment window, police had said.
Close yelled at Thallas and Simon from his apartment window when they told their dog to “go potty.” The Denver Post reports.
Prosecutors said Close then shouted at them from the window, saying, “Are you going to just yell at that dog or train it?” 9News reports.
The couple “disengaged” from Close, the District Attorney said and tended to their dog.
Unbeknownst to them, Close raced into another room and grabbed an AK-47 registered to a friend who was a Denver police sergeant, which he had allegedly stolen, according to The Denver Post.
Close returned to the window and started shooting, firing more than two dozen times, police said.
Afterwards, he called his ex-girlfriend and said he “just killed two people,” she testified in court. The Denver Post reports.
He fled Denver, driving west with the AK-47 and another gun in his vehicle before he was pulled over and arrested, police said, 9News reports.
Close is scheduled to return to court on Nov. 4 for sentencing.
His attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Thallas’ family started a GoFundMe campaign to start a small dog park in her name.
“In loving memory of a beautiful soul gone too soon, my daughter, Isabella Joy Thallas, we would like to set up a small dog park, sitting area in the neighborhood where one’s actions will not hold back a community and families love for one another. ,” the GoFundMe reads.
“We would love to see this space given as a reminder to love more and hate less,” the GoFundMe continues. “My daughter lived life to its fullest with the kindest heart ever. From the CEO to the Weed Puller she always shared a smile and a kind word. She always reminded me in life to work harder daily to BE A GOOD PERSON!”