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Suspect found guilty in fatal Ballpark neighborhood shooting of Isabella Thallas

Michael Close was charged in the killing of Isabella Thallas and wounding of Darian Simon in June 2020.

DENVER — A Denver jury on Thursday found Michael Close guilty of killing Isabella Thallas and seriously wounding her boyfriend more than two years ago after an argument about the couple's dog relieving itself outside Close's apartment.

Close was found guilty of:

  • Two counts of first-degree murder
  • Two counts of attempted first-degree murder
  • Two counts of first-degree assault

He was scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 4.

Jury deliberations in Denver District Court started Wednesday afternoon and resumed at 9 a.m. Thursday. Just before noon, 9NEWS learned that one of the jurors was replaced with an alternate. It was unclear why that happened.

Close, 38, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting June 10, 2020, in the Ballpark District, when someone armed with an AK-47 fired two dozen rounds at Thallas and her boyfriend, Darian Simon, from an apartment window in the 2900 block of Huron Street. Thallas' 21st birthday was two days before.

The two victims were walking their dog at the time of the shooting, and Denver Police have said that Close was angry over their dog relieving itself.

Close was later arrested in Park County. Denver Police said an AR-15 and a handgun were found in the passenger-side floorboard of the Mercedes SUV he was driving at the time, as well as a gun belt and firearm magazines.

RELATED: Gun used to shoot woman killed while walking dog belonged to Denver police officer

Jury selection for the trial started late last week with the first testimony taking place on Monday. Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday and the defense wrapped its case after about an hour of testimony Wednesday morning. Following closing arguments, jurors deliberated for several hours Wednesday afternoon before going home for the evening.

Prosecutors described the murder as a "rage-motivated mission for respect." According to prosecutors, Thallas and Simon encouraged their dog to go to the bathroom during their walk. Unknowingly, they were right outside Close's apartment. Prosecutors said Close then shouted to the couple, "Are you going to just yell at that dog or train it?"   

RELATED: Survivor of deadly Denver Ballpark neighborhood attack endures in the midst of grief and growth

According to prosecutors, when Simon responded, "Mind your own business, Rocko is a good dog," Close grabbed an assault style rifle and fired more than 20 shots, hitting and killing Thallas and seriously wounding Simon.

In her opening statement, Close's attorney did not dispute the basic facts in the case but said Close was "not mentally culpable" for Thallas' murder – that he has suffered most of his life from an untreated mental illness, that he had a mental break immediately preceding the murder and that he did not know what he was doing.

According to Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) records, Close had no prior criminal history in the state.

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