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Testimony Ends in Araujo Case, Closing Arguments Start 6/1
Testimony wrapped up Tuesday in the case of three California men charged with murdering transgender teen Gwen Araujo, with defense lawyers arguing that the men were deceived and acted in a panic. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin June 1 in Hayward, Calif.
Testimony ends in Gwen Araujo case
by Eric Johnston
Testimony wrapped up Tuesday in the case of three California men charged with murdering transgender teen Gwen Araujo, with defense lawyers arguing that the men were deceived and acted in a panic.
Closing arguments are scheduled to begin June 1 in Hayward, Calif.
On Monday, a clinical psychologist called by the defense testified the three defendants likely went into a "panic," brought on by a combination of anger, shame, drugs and alcohol, after discovering the 17-year-old Araujo was biologically male.
"It would flip them out," said Dr. Andrew Pojman.
Prior testimony revealed two of the defendants had sexual encounters with Araujo.
Advocates for transgender people have repeatedly taken issue with the lawyers' "transgender panic defense" strategy.
Michael Magidson, Jose Merel and Jason Cazares are charged with killing Araujo, who was beaten and strangled at Merel's house in Newark, Calif., on Oct. 4, 2002. They each face 25 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder with hate crime enhancements.
A fourth man, Jaron Nabors, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and agreed to testify against the others. He is serving an 11-year prison sentence.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Araujo's mother asked the court to have the deceased girl's name legally changed, posthumously. The victim was born Eddie Araujo, but chose to go by the name Gwen at age 14.
"I always promised Gwen that I would petition the courts to have her name changed, and I want to fulfill my promise," Sylvia Guerrero told the San Jose Mercury News.
"I wish in her lifetime I had called her Gwen more,'' she added. "I didn't realize how much it would have meant to her."
Guerrero said the name change is not solely about honoring her daughter's memory, but also to force the news media and others to refer to her as Gwen. Guerrero said she wants mainstream news organizations to stop identifying her child as "Eddie 'Gwen' Araujo."
Tina D'Elia, who represents Community United Against Violence and was in the courtroom Tuesday, told the PlanetOut Network the judge took the request under advisement and promised to make a decision within a month.
"So we're hopeful," said D'Elia.
Posted May 25, 2004