Jason Cazares, Michael William Magidson, José Antonio Merél & Jaron Chase Nabors

Merel, Magidson, Nabors

Jose Merel, Michael Magidson, Jaron Nabors. Photo: D. ROSS CAMERON

Crimes: Murder

This article was kindly contributed by Lisa P.

Gwen Araujo

Gwen Araujo

Gwen Araujo of San Francisco, California met Michael Magidson, José Merél, Jaron Nabors, and Jason Cazares in the summer of 2002.

She had oral sex with Michael and anal sex with Merél. She couldn’t have vaginal sex because she didn’t have a vagina – she was transgender, you see. What does that matter? Well, to Michael, José, Jaron, and Jason it mattered enough to kill her.

On October 3, 2002, she went to a party at a house rented by José and his brother. There it was discovered that she was transgender, and all hell broke loose. Michael put her in a chokehold, and later punched her in the face and began to choke her, but was pulled off by others. José hit her in the head with a can of food and a frying pan. Still that wasn’t enough for the hellbeasts. Jaron and Jason left in Michael’s truck to go to Jason’s house to get shovels and a pickaxe.

After they came back, Michael kneed Gwen in the head against the living room wall, knocking her out, and Jason kicked her. After that, she was taken to the garage. Jaron later testified that Michael strangled her with a rope and that Jason hit her with a shovel, but Michael testified that it was Jaron who strangled her and struck her with the shovel. In any case, her autopsy later showed that she had died from strangulation associated with blunt force trauma to the head. She was hog-tied, wrapped in a blanket, and placed in the bed of a pick-up truck. The four men then drove her body four hours away and buried her near the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Jason Cazares

Jason Cazares

Eventually Jaron led authorities to where Gwen was buried, in exchange for his guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter and a promise to testify at the trial.

Michael and José were quickly arrested; Jason was arrested over a month after the other defendants, after Jaron implicated him in a letter to his (Jaron’s) girlfriend. Jaron indeed testified against the other three in a deal with the DA for a lesser charge of manslaughter and an 11-year prison sentence. A pretty sweet deal if he was the one who strangled her and hit her with the shovel.

And the other defendants? Well, at the first trial Michael argued that he should not be charged with murder, rather manslaughter at worst, under California law (as California was where the murder occurred). [The first trial ended in a hung jury.] However, at the second trial he and José were each convicted of second-degree murder. They were both sentenced to 15 years to life. Jason pleaded no contest to manslaughter in a plea bargain reached after two juries deadlocked on his fate, and was sentenced to six years in prison. A pretty sweet deal if he was the one who hit her with the shovel.

We’ll never know exactly what happened that night. But we do know this- a woman was killed because she was transgender. And that killing is an abomination. RIP Gwen Araujo. And rot in hell, Michael Magidson, José Merél, Jaron Nabors, and Jason Cazares.

Advocate.com article – retrial
Fox News article – conviction
SFGate article – sentencing
SFGate article – sentencing
Justice For Gwen blog

12 Responses to Jason Cazares, Michael William Magidson, José Antonio Merél & Jaron Chase Nabors

  1. Bengalpuss says:

    Cleo, welcome back hun hope your feeling better? As for the article i’ve said it before, people who are transgender have to tell ppl if they are going to have sex with somebody otherwise some people take it badly, however to kill someone is disgusting and my heart goes out to the victims family and friends. Could this death have been avoided? We’ll never know, its dangerous for transgenders to not reveal who they are to sexual partners whether it is one night stands or going into a relationship.

  2. Bengalpuss says:

    I have to say that gwen was a good looking transgender, i would’ve never have known if it wasn’t mentioned, she’s better looking than me and thats pretty difficult to beat. Only kidding bout the last bit but i may as well blow my own trumpet lol.

  3. awesomeblossom says:

    Gwen was beautiful. It’s so sad that she felt she had to give those losers sex. I hope her self esteem wasn’t so low that she felt she had nothing else to give. Poor Gwen. I hope those bastards rot.

  4. Bengalpuss says:

    AWESOMEBLOSSOM, would you have ever guessed that gwen was transgender if you hadn’t known just by looking at her? I tell you i wouldn’t have known. When i’ve watched dumb arse shows like jerry springer, i could tell but looking at gwen’s picture i wouldn’t of been any the wiser, she was a nice looking girl, a damn shame murderous thugs ended that sweet girls life.

  5. DecentPeopleOnly says:

    I Agree they should tell people if they are Transgender and it is
    Not my personal attraction but Brutal Murder is Murder and that is
    Beyond the Pale of Human Decency

    Sadistic Describes what Happened to this Murder Victim

  6. FlyingLeadChange says:

    Okay, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here, with the caveat that these guys are massive douchebags and I don’t feel sorry for them being in jail.

    He/she didn’t disclose their real gender when engaging in sex, and clearly these guys thought they were sleeping with a woman. Now, my understanding of consent is that it must be informed consent; if someone doesn’t understand or know what they’re agreeing to, consent does not exist.

    So, in a sense, these guys killed because they had experienced unwanted and non-consensual sexual contact.

    Now if this had been a more typical (sadly) scenario of a woman sexually assaulted by a man with no consent, I don’t think anyone here would be too upset if she managed to get some retribution against him. Not killing him, of course, but maybe bashing in some of his offending organ until it’s nonfunctional. Hell, we’d all be cheering her.

    Just some thoughts. They were extremely wrong to kill this person, but on the flip side, they were also recipients of nonconsensual sexual contact.

    • Narcissus and the Bunnymen says:

      Consent means “yes/no” to having sex, not the heteronormative way you’re using it.
      No where does it suggest diminished capacity, underage, or coercion.

      People need to stop trying to find the nobility in a bunch of transgenderphobes realizing that their [email protected]#$hole was attached to a man, and turning their sexual object into one of hate. Anyone can feel duped during sex but it doesn’t make it nonconsensual. Some men consider makeup deceitful! Have such men, therefore, not given consent to boinking plain, splotchy women?

      These thugs reached for an excuse to destroy a person they used to get off, and you can kinda see where they’re coming from?

  7. DecentPeopleOnly says:

    It was Not the Intimacy that they were seeking it Appears and in a
    way perhaps it was nonconsensual but still Killing this Person was too Far of Course they should of been Informed beforehand about the Transgender Issue but their Actions were Brutal and Overboard

    They could of just said that they were Not Happy about intimacy with
    someone Transgender and them went away without the Killing

  8. DecentPeopleOnly says:

    The Killing cannot be Condoned as it was Not in Self Defence or any
    other Mitigating Reason such as to Prevent Child Abuse therefore it
    was Murder

    Wherever one is comfortable with Intimacy with Transgenders or Not
    Murder is still Murder and beyond the Pale

  9. Bengalpuss says:

    Flyingleadchange, thats my point exactly, if a man has sexual relations with what he thinks is a woman and then it turns out that he’s just had sexual relations with a man, then he is bound to be pissed. I think the murder of gwen was absolutely disgusting, however gwen should’ve informed those guys from the outset that she was born a male, so i understand why they became enraged and provoked, they should’ve been informed before any shananagans happened and because she didn’t thats why we are reading yet another story of a murdered transgender.

  10. Newark says:

    I went to school with Gwen and it was blatantly clear that she was transgender. I mean you could tell from across the street. What these guys did is horrible and they deserve what they got or worse but I have to say that They made her seem like a saint,but that’s far from the truth.

  11. Rachelle DuFrans says:

    Apart from Newark, I’d say all of you are wrong by the way ? Transgenderism is not by all accounts something that should be made unacceptable to question nor should it be banded about like ones sexuality which by all accounts is completely indignant of the fact “SHE” was not homosexual because she was not declared a man who liked men, but a heterosexual woman who happened to be born in the wrong gender and liked men as most heterosexual people do, not making any assumptions but it would not be a problem if she was bisexual.

    It will be misconstrued to think that “paedophilie” and “molester” are the same word which they may be interpreted as equal but both have different connotations as one can point out in the English dictionary as mental vs physical acts upon victims, much like “gender and sexuality”

    In this day and age of “readily available information” it’s contrary to damn right ignorance if people ignore science and religion to be separate from each other, you cannot argue over one when both have equal followers of faith in each, what happened here is a complete travesty and although these men were jailed, I don’t think this is enough punishment, and the state and the country should acknowledge this!

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