Jurors convicted a Colorado man of murdering a woman and trying to kill her boyfriend in a dispute over a pooping dog. Michael Close, 38, was found guilty of all charges on Thursday for pulling out a semiautomatic rifle and opening fire on Isabella Thallas, 21, and survivor Darian Simon, prosecutors announced.
“I am delighted that we were able to get justice for Isabella Thallas and Darian Simon,” said Denver District Attorney Beth McCann. “Moreover, I am extremely proud of our prosecution team for their excellent work.”
Charges are one count of first-degree murder — after deliberation; one count of first-degree murder — extreme indifference; two counts of attempt to commit first-degree murder; and two counts of first-degree assault.
Authorities have said Thallas and Simon were walking their dog on June 10, 2020 when they stopped in front of Close’s ground-floor apartment. Simon gave the dog a command to poop. Close, however, started yelling at them from inside his home.
“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close said, according to cops.
Close pulled out a semiautomatic rifle and opened fire, killing Thallas and shooting Simon twice in the legs.
“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,” prosecutors said on Thursday. “Both victims had disengaged from Close and were tending to their dog when Close began shooting. Numerous reports of shots being fired were received by Denver’s Combined Communications Center.”
Surveillance footage showed Close opening his blinds and opening fire as Simon was bending over to pick up the dog’s feces.
Family, friends, neighbors and strangers will honor the life of Isabella Thallas at a vigil in Denver’s Ballpark neighborhood tonight. Isabella was shot & killed yesterday while she and her boyfriend were walking their dog. Her mother told me she just turned 21 last week.
— Allison Rosenmayer (@AlliRosenmayer) June 11, 2020
Close pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His girlfriend said that he called her after the shooting, police have said. She said he was crying and telling her he killed two people. He was repeatedly apologizing, she said. He was afraid to turn himself in despite her urging him to do so, she said. The woman said he was “not mentally stable” in the time that she knew him. He had a personality disorder and depression, she said.
Jurors, however, found him culpable. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4.
[Mugshot via Denver Police Department]
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