The three men charged in the slaying of a transgendered teenager will stand trial next spring, an Alameda County, Calif., judge ruled Tuesday. The trial of the three--Michael Magidson, 23; Jose Merel, 22; and Jason Cazares, 22--was slated for March 15. All have pleaded innocent to charges that they murdered Eddie "Gwen" Araujo. The March date was "the earliest day on which all defense attorneys agreed they would have the sufficient amount of time to try this case," Alameda County district attorney Chris Lamiero said.
Police have said Araujo, a 17-year-old who was born male but lived as a woman, was beaten and strangled last October after her biological identity was unmasked at a party in the San Francisco suburb of Newark.
Attorneys for the three men argued that the defendants were overwhelmed by the sudden realization that the beautiful girl they knew as Lida--the girl two of them had been intimate with--was a man. A fourth man, 20-year-old Jaron Nabors, led police to the body, which had been buried in a shallow grave in the Sierra foothills. Nabors struck a plea deal with prosecutors in exchange for testimony against his friends.
The defendants will remain in Alameda County jail until their trial, Lamiero said.