A Denver man who allegedly killed a 21-year-old woman and wounded her boyfriend by shooting at them after a dispute over their dog defecating pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Monday in Denver District Court.
Thallas and her boyfriend, Darian Simon, were walking their pet dog near 29th and Huron Street in Denver’s Ballpark neighborhood when Michael Close, 36, opened fire on them with an assault rifle, CBS Denver reported.
When they were in the 3000 block of North Fox Street, Simon asked his dog to defecate, Simon told police, according to Denver Post. That’s when the couple heard someone shouting at them from a lower-level apartment, asking if they were going to train the animal or just yell at it, the outlet reported.
Simon told officers that he had tried to dismiss Close’s yelling but then noticed Close pointing what seemed like a firearm at him.
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.— Alli Levine (@AlliLevineNews) June 11, 2020
Initially, he had assumed the weapon was just a pellet gun, only to realize that it was indeed an actual firearm when Close opened fire, the Denver Post reported.
Simon was struck and immediately tried to flee “until he could not run further due to the injury to his leg and buttocks,” the probable cause statement of the incident said, according to CBS Denver. He was shot twice, according to Denver Post. Isabella, who was also hit, succumbed to her gun wounds.
Ana Thallas, the mother of Isabella Thallas, who died in the Jun. 10, 2020 shooting, called Close’s insanity plea “absolutely disgusting,” according to Denver Post.
“I’m furious,” said Ana. “I’m so furious… What upsets me the most is the fact he knew right from wrong. He admitted to what he did, he even showed a sense of remorse after he did it… If someone knows right from wrong and that they screwed up, how is that insanity?” (RELATED: Justices Puzzle Over Insanity Defense, Non-Unanimous Jury Verdicts On First Day Of New Term)
The gun used in the killing belonged to a police officer friend of Close, according to police, Denver Post reported. The rifle, which was the officer’s personal weapon, was taken and used without his permission, cops believe.
As a result of the incident, Close faces 22 counts. These charges include “first-degree murder, prohibited use of a large-capacity magazine, prohibited use of a weapon, and crime of violence,” CBS Denver reported.
If a court-mandated sanity examination finds him not guilty of these charges because of insanity, Close will be admitted to a mental health asylum instead of a prison facility, Denver Post reported. If he is then subsequently found sane at a later date, he could be released, according to the outlet.