General Crime

Michael Magidson, Jose Merel, Jaron Nabors, Jason Cazares Convicted In The Murder Of Transgender Teen Gwen Araujo

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A state appeals court in San Francisco today upheld the second-degree murder convictions of two East Bay men in the slaying of a transgender Newark teenager in 2002.Michael Magidson, 28, of Fremont, and Jose Merel, 29, of Newark, were among four men convicted in Alameda County Superior Court in the beating and strangulation death of 17-year-old Gwen Araujo at Merel’s house in Newark in the early morning hours of Oct. 4, 2002.

The other two men, Jaron Nabors, 26, and Jason Cazares, 29, both of Newark, pleaded guilty or no contest to voluntary manslaughter charges. Araujo, whose real name was Eddie and who was known to the men as Lida, was biologically male but had dressed and presented herself as a girl since she was 14. She was killed by being hit with a food can and a frying pan and being choked when the four men, after an evening of drinking, discovered she was a male. Araujo had been socializing with them for four months and had had sexual encounters with both Magidson and Merel, the court said.

Magidson and Merel were convicted of second-degree murder in 2005 and sentenced the following year to 15 years to life. About two weeks after the slaying, Nabors led investigators to a shallow grave in the El Dorado County wilderness east of Placerville where the four men had buried Araujo’s bound body.

In a plea bargain, Nabors pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for testifying against the other three men. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison as part of the plea agreement. Cazares pleaded no contest to a voluntary manslaughter charge after the jury in the 2005 trial could not reach a verdict in his case. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

In today’s ruling, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal rejected Magidson’s and Merel’s claims that their trial was unfair because of errors in jury instructions and comments by the prosecutor.Magidson’s attorney in the appeal, Mark Greenberg, said he plans to appeal further to the California Supreme Court.Greenberg said, “I’m disappointed.  I think the jury was not instructed correctly.” Deputy Alameda County District Attorney Chris Lamiero, the prosecutor in the case, said, “I’m pleased the Court of Appeal believed the jury made the right decision.”The jury instruction dispute concerned the wording used to tell jurors about the standard for a possible finding that the killing was committed in the “heat of passion” and therefore could be considered the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder.

Magidson’s defense lawyer at the trial had sought to argue that Araujo provoked the four men into the killing because she deceived them about her gender.Superior Court Judge Harry Sheppard told jurors that the standard for heat-of-passion manslaughter was whether a defendant’s reasoning was disturbed by passion to an extent that would cause an ordinarily reasonable person to act rashly. The two men claimed in the appeal that the wording should have been whether an ordinarily reasonable person would have been “liable” to act rashly, not whether such a person would act rashly. But the appeals court said the wording used at the trial had essentially been approved by the California Supreme Court in four other cases and was not “an incorrect statement of the law.”

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3 Comments

  • before i led on i jus wanna say prayers 2 all latina gwen amber rose araujo family she will be misss truely now to those boyyzzz let me tell u sum im black now say dat a white person gay why it always gotta be them to die say it wazz a black person waas gay do u thnkz dose boyz would half pu day hands on demm i dnt thnzz so cnt wait till yall die cuzzz gwen cummin 4 yalll yall goota nother thing cummin in i remember mi grand ma told once u go to hell u ruatt alll yo days in u could fell the firee u burn 4 the rest of yo life so wi yall pple thnkzz its a joke juss wait till the gooo to heelll she wazz juss mindin her on buzness i sw tha movi :A GIRL LIKE ME GWEN ARAUJO STORY: IT WAZZ SO GUDD I JUS GOT THRU WRITIN IT IN 4 DAT MAN IN Dat movie he need to shut his fat bu up jus cuz shes a trans dat dnt mean dey can get time off in yes i saw the real pictures of the real gwen she luks so better in person all i knw gwen i hope u live happley ever after and 4 dose who dnt like here jackkkk offfff….lol R.I.P GW

  • first off my prayers and thoughts go out to the family of Gwen Araujo. It upsets me a lot to see and hear that someone could do something so vicious and demented it sickens me. Myself being homosexual knows what it is like to be beat up but to kill someone because you made the choice to sleep with them and one of the boys had a girlfriend so why cheat to those four young men i hpe god has mercy on your soul and I pray that you go through something that tragic
    sincerely a pissed off homo

  • IT UPSETS ME TO HERE SUCH A BADD REPORT ABOUT WAT HAPPENED TO 17 YEAR OLD GIRL….BECAUSE SHE WAS TRANZGENDERED….I HAVE SAW THE MOVIE THAT THEY HAVE MADE ABOUT GWEN…IF U HAVE NOT SEEN IT YET PLEASE GO SEE IT..IT HAS ALL THE DETAILS… ITS CALLED :; A GIRL LIKE ME…U CAN LOOK IT UP AND WATCH IT ON YOUTUBE…THANK U..MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS GOES OUT TO THE FAMILY

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