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Suspect in deadly Ballpark shooting pleads not guilty by reason of insanity

Isabella Thallas, 21, died in shooting; Darian Simon, 27, injured
Michael Close.jpg
Posted at 10:47 AM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 12:48:32-05

DENVER – The man accused of shooting and killing a young woman and severely injuring her boyfriend in the Ballpark neighborhood last June pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity on Monday.

Michael Close, 37, appeared by video at an arraignment Monday morning in Denver District Court, where his attorney entered a not guilty by reason of insanity plea on his behalf with respect to the 22 counts Close faces, including first-degree murder, in last year’s shooting.

Close will undergo a mental health evaluation at the state hospital in Pueblo ahead of his next hearing, which was set for May 10.

Close is accused of shooting and killing 21-year-old Isabella Thallas and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Darian Simon, outside an apartment complex last summer while the two were walking their dog and after it defecated on the ground near the complex. Thallas died at the scene, while Simon survived being shot twice.

Close fled the shooting but was arrested near U.S. 285 and Mt. Evans Blvd. by a Park County sheriff’s deputy. Inside his car, investigators found a pistol-grip AR-15, handgun, gun belt and magazines, according to a probable cause statement for his arrest.

In January, the Denver Police Department said the AR-15 used in the shooting belonged to a DPD officer with whom Close was friends and that it had been taken from the officer’s home without his knowledge.

Thallas’s mother is now advocating for a bill at the state legislature that would require gun owners to report when their firearm has been lost or stolen.

Close faces 12 felony counts, six misdemeanor counts and four possible sentence enhancers if he is convicted, including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and possession of a large-capacity magazine.