One of four alleged killers of transgendered teen pleads guilty

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com February 25 2003 1:00 AM ET

One of four young men charged with the October slaying of transgendered teen Eddie "Gwen" Araujo pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Monday and agreed to testify against his friends. Jaron Chase Nabors, 19, will get 11 years in prison under the agreement reached with prosecutors. He had faced a murder charge. His plea came during a preliminary hearing into whether Nabors and the other three should stand trial for the killing.

Jose Antonio Merel, 23; Michael William Magidson, 22; and Jason Michael Cazares, 22, stand charged with murder in the beating and strangulation death of Araujo at Merel's house in the Northern California town of Newark. About two weeks after the slaying, police say, Nabors led them to Araujo's body in a shallow grave in the Sierra foothills about 150 miles east of Newark. Prosecutors say the 17-year-old Araujo was killed after Nabors and his three friends determined that the woman they had known as Lida was biologically male.

"By entering a plea of guilty today, you are in fact convicting yourself," said superior court judge Kenneth Mark Burr. "You are being a witness against yourself. Do you understand that?"

"Yes, your honor," said Nabors, who appeared pale and composed and said little throughout the brief hearing. The plea came on what would have been Araujo's 18th birthday.