Relationships And Risks

Honesty from a partner (or the lack thereof?) can have very serious, life-or-death consequences in certain circumstances.

In the fall of 2002, a beautiful young transgender woman became a national (and possibly global?) "poster child", whose horrific story illustrated the worst case scenario of those consequences. Certain readers here may be somewhat familiar with this sad but true story, while others may actually LEARN SOMETHING from this factual retelling, which is the ONLY positive thing that could possibly come from the highly avoidable tragedy that occurred almost 8 years ago.

NOTE: the following contains real life graphic descriptions of a sexual and violent nature (excerpted from Wikipedia), and is NOT intended for children or more "sensitive" readers.
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Gwen Araujo, an American teenage pre-operative transgender woman, who was going by the name "Lida" at the time, met Michael Magidson, Jose Merél, Jaron Nabors, and Jason Cazares in the summer of 2002. She was reported to have engaged in oral sex with Magidson and anal sex with Merél. She claimed to be menstruating and during sex would push her partners' hands away from her genitalia to prevent them from discovering that she was biologically male.

On October 3, 2002, she attended a party at a house rented by Merél and his brother, Paul Merél. Also in attendance at the party were Magidson, Jose Merél, Nabors, Cazares, Paul Merél, Paul Merél's girlfriend Nicole Brown, and Emmanual Merél.

At the party on October 3, 2002 she was discovered, by forced inspection (conducted by Brown), that she had male genitalia, following which the men with whom she had had sexual relations became violent. Magidson put Araujo in a chokehold. Later, he punched Araujo in the face and began to choke her, but was pulled off by others. Jose Merél struck Araujo in the head with a can of food and a frying pan. Nabors and Cazares left in Magidson's truck to go to Cazares's house to get shovels and a pickax.

When Nabors and Cazares returned, Araujo was still conscious and sitting on the couch. At some point, the assault resumed. Magidson kneed Araujo in the head against the living room wall, rendering her unconscious. Cazares kicked Araujo.

After this, Araujo was taken to the garage of the home. Nabors testified that Magidson strangled her with a rope and that Cazares struck her with a shovel, but Magidson testified that it was Nabors who strangled Araujo and struck her with the shovel, and Cazares testified that he never struck her and did not see Araujo die.

Most accounts have Merél cleaning blood out of the carpet at the time that she was strangled. Araujo was then hog-tied, wrapped in a blanket, and placed in the bed of a pick-up truck. They then drove Araujo's body four hours away and buried her near the Sierra Nevada mountains. Araujo's disappearance and murder went unreported for days. It is not clear at what point during this sequence of events Araujo's death occurred. However, the autopsy showed that she died from strangulation associated with blunt force trauma to the head.

The partygoers did not report the crime and the assailants said nothing to anyone about the murder. Two days after Araujo's death, a friend of Jaron Nabors described him as appearing distraught. Nabors, one of the four attackers, led authorities to the grave site in "exchange for his guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter and a promise to testify at the trial."

Three defendants testified in this trial — and blamed each other as well as Nabors. On 8 September, the jury announced that it had reached verdicts on two of the three defendants. As Judge Harry Sheppard instructed, the verdicts were kept secret.

On 12 September, after the jury announced that it had deadlocked on the third defendant, the verdicts were announced. The defendant on whom the jury had deadlocked was Cazares. Magidson and Merél were each convicted of second degree murder, but not convicted of the hate crime enhancement allegations.

Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Chris Lamiero, who represented the prosecution in the case, determined criminal intent by commenting: "Gwen being transgender was not a provocative act. She's who she was. However, I would not further ignore the reality that Gwen made some decisions in her relation with these defendants that were impossible to defend. I don't think most jurors are going to think it's OK to engage someone in sexual activity knowing they assume you have one sexual anatomy when you don't."


tgcyndi tgcyndi
36-40, T
Aug 3, 2010