DENVER — The man who shot and killed Isabella Thallas and injured her boyfriend Darian Simon while the couple was walking Simon's dog near Coors Field in June 2020 will serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
On Friday, a Denver District Court judge sentenced Michael Close to life in prison for the murder of Thallas and to 48 years in prison for the attempted murder of Simon. The sentences are to run consecutively. Close was also ordered to pay more than $37,000 in restitution.
"There's no winners in this," said Joshua Thallas, Isabella's father. "We go home after this, my family broke, still without my daughter. (Close's) family is broke, believe or or not. He'll go to jail, they're without a son, a brother, so there's no winners in this."
“Mr. Close will pay for what he’s done by spending his life in prison," said Judge Lisa C. Arnolds at the sentencing.
Close pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting June 10, 2020, in the Ballpark District, when he used an AK-47 to fire two dozen rounds at Thallas and 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.
At the trial in September, prosecutors described the murder as a "rage-motivated mission for respect." Prosecutors said 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?"
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.
Close was found guilty in September of:
- Two counts of first-degree murder
- Two counts of attempted first-degree murder
- Two counts of first-degree assault
> Below, the mother of Isabella Thallas speaks to 9NEWS about her daughter and the shooting.
This story contains previous reporting by Janet Oravetz.
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