One of the cases that has affected everyone that works and lives in CA is that of Gwen Araujo. In memory and honor of Gwen, and that influence the her case had on so many we maintain this record of the Gwen Araujo justice for Victims Act.
Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act Becomes Law!
San Francisco, CA – The nation’s first bill to address use of panic strategies, the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act (AB 1160), was signed into law today by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Authored by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber and Sponsored by Equality California, the bill puts California firmly on record as opposing a defendant’s use of societal bias against their victim in order to decrease their own culpability for a crime. …more
Gwen Araujo Trial Information
Sentencing Date and Sylvia Writes About Life After Gwen
The four defendants in the murder of Gwen Araujo are being sentenced to prison on January 27, 2006. Two of the men, Michael Magidson and Jose Merel were convicted of 2nd degree murder and face sentences of 15 years to life. The other two, Jaron Nabors and Jason Cazares, took plea bargains to voluntary manslaughter. Nabors, who took his plea back in 2002 when he lead police to Gwen’s body, will be sentenced to an 11 year sentence. Cazares, after two mistrials, finally plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter and will be sentenced to a 6 year sentence.
In advance of the sentencing date, Gwen’s mother, Sylvia Guerrero, wrote her first Op-Ed since Gwen’s murder. The opinion piece, Life After Gwen, ran in the January 25, 2006 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. You can read it on-line, here:
Victory in Hayward
Nearly three years to the date of her murder, the family of Newark, CA teen Gwen Araujo finally got the justice they had been seeking when two of her murderers, Michael Magidson and Jose Merel, were convicted of second degree murder on September 12, 2005.
Some community members expressed disappointment that neither Magidson nor Merel was convicted of a hate crime enhancement and the jury deadlocked for a second time on Jason Cazares. However, TLC believes strongly that this trial and this verdict are a significant victory for our communities.
As always, our thoughts are with Gwen’s family and friends who have our eternal gratitude for standing by Gwen and our community until justice was won. We will also continue to stand by them in their efforts to make sure that Jason Cazares is held accountable for his role in Gwen’s murder as well.
Background on the Murder and the Trial
In October of 2002, just months after the Transgender Law Center opened our doors, Gwen Amber Rose Araujo was brutally murdered in an early morning in Newark, California. Over the next several months, the story of seventeen year old Gwen, her mother, Sylvia Guerrero, and their large extended family saddened and inspired people around Northern California.
In May of 2004, three men accused of participating in Gwen’s murder faced a criminal trial. In response to offensive and harmful messages being put forth by the defendants’ attorneys, TLC collaborated with several other California organizations to provide accurate and necessary information. During the same time, TLC represented Ms. Guerrero in her petition to secure legal recognition of Gwen’s change of name. Although requests for posthumous name changes are a rarity, TLC argued that the petition was a valid exercise of the courts jurisdiction. In June of 2004, the same month the jury in Gwen’s murder trial deadlocked, the petition was granted and Gwen’s name was recognized.
In June of 2005, the Gwen Araujo Re-Trial began in Hayward, CA. TLC and our friends at Community United Against Violence and allies chronicled the trial through a blog. You can read it here:
Advocacy Materials from the 2004 Trial and
- 5 Facts Missing From Coverage of the Gwen Araujo Trial
- Press Release: Justice for Gwen Delayed, Not Denied
- 3 Suggestions following the Gwen Araujo Mistrial
Information on TLC’s efforts to help Gwen’s mother, Sylvia Guerrero, get court recognition of her daughter’s change of name
- Press Release: California Superior Court Grants Posthumous Name Change Petition for Slain Bay Area Transgender Teen
- Gwen Amber Rose Araujo Order Changing Name
Great Columns on Gwen Araujo 2004 Trial
No issue of sexual deception. Gwen Araujo was just who she was (Letter by Dylan Vade)
San Francisco Chronicle, 05/30/04
Deadlocked jury sent a message of hope
San Jose Mercury News
Somewhere along the line, during two months of testimony in a Hayward courtroom, the jury got it. Even though the eight men and four women deadlocked on a verdict last week and the case ended in a mistrial, apparently they at least agreed that when someone is brutally kicked in the face, hit with a skillet, beaten with a soup can, strangled with a rope and finally bludgeoned with a shovel, it’s murder.
‘Gay panic’ in araujo case doesn’t justify lesser charge
San Jose Mercury News
If only Gwen Araujo had known when she went to a Newark house party on the night of Oct. 3, 2002, that she was walking right into the eye of a ”perfect storm.” A storm that would batter her and leave her dead at the age of 17.That’s how the defense attorney of one of three men accused of killing Araujo that night described their lethal mix of immaturity, insecurity, ignorance, fear, bigotry and rage: a perfect storm.
Don’t ask jurors to think like defendants
San Jose Mercury News (CA)
The fate of Jason Cazares, Jose Merel and Michael Magidson is now in an Alameda County jury’s hands. After two months of testimony, the trial for the killing of a Newark teen, Gwen Araujo, has gone to a panel of four women and eight men, who must decide what happened on an October night in 2002, when the transgender 17-year-old was killed in a house full of so-called friends .It’s a high-profile trial.