poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

this is truly pitiful ... and shameful... we all need to hold this persons death and the failure of this system in our collective hands...!!

Mistrial in Transgender Teen Murder Case
Bay City News

An Alameda County Superior Court judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in the trial of three East Bay men accused of murdering Newark transgender teen Gwen Araujo.

Judge Harry Sheppard said that "it appears to the court that this jury is hopelessly deadlocked" and noted that the jury has deliberated over parts of 10 days.

Michael Magidson, 23, of Fremont, and Jose Merel and Jason Cazares, both 24-year-old Newark men, were being prosecuted on murder and hate crime enhancement charges for Araujo's death.

Prosecutors allege that the three men killed Araujo after discovering that the beautiful girl with whom at least two of them had sex actually was biologically male. The case has drawn attention from the transgender community around the nation.


Judge in Gwen Araujo Murder Case Declares Mistrial Tuesday, Citing Deadlocked Jury

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Calls “Gay Panic” Defense
A Disgrace to Our Judicial System

On October 14, 2002, seventeen year-old Gwen Araujo was brutally killed by four men because she was transgender. She had been intimate with two of the men previously, and they had suspected that she was biologically male. All four men met to talk about their suspicions. They created what one killer testified was a “Tony Soprano-like plan to kill him and get rid of the body." One week later they accosted her, beat her for six hours, drove her body to a remote national park, and buried her in a shallow grave. The investigating detective described the overwhelming display of violence as “overkill.”

Three of the four defendants were charged with first-degree murder with a hate crimes enhancement. Two of the defendants asserted the “gay panic” defense. The “gay panic” defense alleges that following an encounter with a person whom a straight-identified individual believes to be gay, that straight-identified individual becomes so terrified by implications for his own sexuality that he kills that person in an unthinking rage. When successful, this defense reduces a charge from murder to manslaughter, which can significantly lessen the sentence imposed. This reduction may occur despite the fact that these crimes are frequently characterized, as here, by gratuitous violence.

In Araujo’s case, the defense argued that senseless brutality committed against Araujo was manslaughter, which carries a substantially shorter sentence that the charge of murder, because the men had been "pushed beyond reason by their discovery” that “Araujo had deceitfully lured the men into having homosexual sex."

The following statement is attributable to Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

“We are sickened that that the jury in the Gwen Araujo murder case deadlocked and a mistrial was declared. Our hearts and thoughts go out to Ms. Araujo’s family and friends.

“The perpetrators committed an unprovoked, pre-meditated, and horrifyingly violent murder, followed by a calculated attempt to hide their crime. Clearly, the only ‘reason’ for this atrocity was that two of the perpetrators felt shamed that they had sex with Ms. Araujo and then learned she was a transgender person. That this ‘defense’ is even allowed is a disgrace to our judicial system; that even one juror bought this pathetic line reconfirms the virulent hatred and loathing of transgender people that lives in our society.

“Sadly, today’s result is not out of the ordinary. Perpetrators of similar, hate-motivated murders of transgender people have long escaped any punishment for their acts by relying on prejudice and ignorance. This must stop. We commend the district attorney for committing to a retrial of these violent thugs and ensuring that justice is served.”


Emergency Rally for Gwen Araujo at Harvey Milk Plaza Today (Tuesday) at 5:30
PM today

Come and show the world that we care about and value Gwen’s life.

This morning a judge declared a mistrial in the trial of three men accused
of killing Gwen Araujo after jurors said they could not agree whether to
convict the men of first-degree murder.

Judge Harry Sheppard said he believed that the jury was hopelessly
deadlocked after the jury foreman told him the panel of eight men and four
women have been unable to pass over the point of reasonable doubt.

The panel had been deliberating for the better part of 10 days.

The defense for the accused had argued that the defendants had “gay panic”
when they murdered Gwen and that she had “deceived” them about her gender.


Prosecutors say they will retry transgender killing case
By Michelle Locke

HAYWARD – Gasps of dismay sounded in a courtroom as the trial of three men charged with killing a transgender teenager ended Tuesday with the jury declaring they were deadlocked.

Prosecutor Chris Lamiero said he would seek to retry the case, although that is not expected to happen for some months.

Jurors, who had been deliberating for about nine days, said according to their latest ballot they were stuck 10-2 in favor of acquitting Jose Merel and Jason Cazares on first-degree murder charges and 7-5 in favor of convicting Michael Magidson.

The three, all 24, were charged with killing a teenager known to most of her friends as Gwen but born Edward Araujo. Merel and Magidson had sexual encounters with Araujo in the months before her death and, according to prosecutors, the killing occurred after a showdown in which Araujo's biological gender was revealed.

Had they decided to convict, the panel of eight men and four women also had the option of returning verdicts of second-degree murder or manslaughter, but only if they agreed on the first-degree charge. First-degree murder is punishable by 25 years to life, second-degree by 15-to-life and manslaughter by up to 11 years.


Judge declares mistrial in Araujo case
by Eric Johnston
PlanetOut Network

A judge in Hayward, Calif. declared a mistrial Tuesday in the murder trial of three men accused of killing transgender teen Gwen Araujo, after jurors indicated they were deadlocked over what charges the men should face.

Superior Court Judge Harry Sheppard announced his decision after speaking with members if the jury, who had deliberated for 10 days.

Michael Magidson, 23, and Jose Merel and Jason Cazares, both 24, were charged with first-degree murder, with a hate crime enhancement, for allegedly killing Araujo on Oct. 4, 2002.

The case has drawn national media attention and has mobilized the transgender community.
Christopher Daley, co-director of the Transgender Law Center, called it "justice delayed but not denied." He said while he had hoped to see the jury return with a verdict, he feels confident the defendants will eventually be found guilty of murder charges.

"It's our understanding from the prosecutor that each and every juror rejected the charge of manslaughter," Daley told the PlanetOut Network, "and that the only sticking point that led to this mistrial was whether or not these three men were guilty of first-degree or second-degree murder."


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