By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com December 17 2002 1:00 AM ET
Three young men pleaded innocent Friday to beating and strangling to death a 17-year-old in Northern California after learning that the transgendered teen was a biological male. Eddie "Gwen" Araujo Jr.'s body was discovered in October in a shallow grave 150 miles east of San Francisco in the Sierra foothills, according to police. Police say she was murdered October 3 during a party at 23-year-old Jose Merel's house in suburban San Francisco. Merel and 22-year-olds Michael Magidson and Jason Cazares entered their pleas during a brief court appearance. The judge set a preliminary hearing date of January 29. Jaron Nabors, a fourth suspect who police say led them to Araujo's body, pleaded innocent last month.