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Jury Deliberations Begin in Killing of Transgender Teen

June 04, 2004|From Associated Press

HAYWARD, Calif. — Telling jurors "you are the conscience of the community," a prosecutor urged the panel to return verdicts of first-degree murder against three men charged with killing a transgender teenager after finding out that she was biologically male.

The jury heard from defense attorneys for two of the men that the killing of Eddie Araujo was manslaughter, not murder, because it was not premeditated and occurred during an emotional explosion touched off by sexual fraud.

But prosecutor Chris Lamiero rejected that theory as he made his final argument to jurors, who began deliberations Thursday. "The provocation did not flow from Eddie Araujo. The provocation flowed from within them," Lamiero said, glancing at the table where the three defendants sat. "They were the source of their own provocation. Their pathetic, weak sense of self-identity led to the death of a human being."

Araujo, 17, known to family and friends as "Gwen" but to the three defendants as "Lida," was beaten and strangled after her biological identity was revealed in a confrontation in October 2002. Three 24-year-olds were charged in the case: Jason Cazares, Michael Magidson and Jose Merel. A fourth man, 21-year-old Jaron Nabors, also was charged, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter in exchange for testifying.

Nabors said he did not see the killing but saw Magidson start to pull a rope toward Araujo's neck and later heard him talking about twisting the rope. He also said that Cazares later acknowledged having hit Araujo with a shovel, something Cazares denies.

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