Man who shot dog walker with AK-47 convicted of murder

Michael Close pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but jurors concluded he knew what he was doing

Michael Close used an AK-47 to kill Isabella Thallas and wound her boyfriend, Darian Simon.  EPA
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A man who used an AK-47 to kill a woman and wound her boyfriend as they walked their dog was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder on Thursday.

Prosecutors in Denver, Colorado said Michael Close got into a “verbal exchange” with Isabella Thallas and Darian Simon as they were encouraging their dog to relieve itself outside his apartment near Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, on June 10, 2020.

Close pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but jurors concluded that he knew what he was doing when he opened fire, The Denver Post reported.

He yelled out the window at the couple as they urged the dog to “go potty” before getting the AK-47, which he had taken from a friend who was a Denver police sergeant. Prosecutors said he fired 24 times.

Close’s public defender, Sonja Prins, said he had suffered a mental breakdown, and that an abusive childhood, a string of job losses, a break-up and the Covid-19 pandemic had contributed to his poor state at the time of the shooting.

He cried as the verdict was read, as did members of Thallas's family.

Her mother, Anna Thallas, said she felt numb.

“We’ve been waiting two and a half years for this day and what happened in there just went by … almost as fast as my daughter was slaughtered,” Ms Thallas said through tears.

“And our lives were changed forever.”

Updated: September 23, 2022, 12:17 AM