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Killer of transgendered teen testifies

Killer of transgendered teen testifies

The prosecution's main witness in the trial of three men charged with killing a California transgendered teen says the first night he met Eddie "Gwen" Araujo he was struck by a passing thought: Could this be a dude? "I just remember looking at her, and it would be hard to pinpoint exactly what struck me funny, but something struck me funny, and...this crazy idea just kind of popped into my head," Jaron Nabors said as he began testifying Thursday. Nabors initially was among the four men charged with Araujo's murder. But he pleaded guilty to manslaughter during the preliminary hearing last year and has been promised an 11-year prison sentence in return for testifying against his former confederates. On trial are Michael Magidson, 23; Jose Merel, 24; and Jason Cazares, 24. Prosecutors say Araujo, 17, was beaten, kicked, choked, and strangled to death after the men, who knew her as "Lida," discovered she was biologically male during a confrontation that began October 3, 2002. Merel and Magidson had had sexual encounters with Araujo, according to earlier testimony, and prosecutors say all three men decided to murder Araujo. Nabors made something of a dramatic entrance into the courtroom Thursday, with the doors being locked and the three defendants taken out before he was brought in. The defendants then returned, each looking down as they took their seats. Jurors, meanwhile, had been given a brief recess so they would see the process. Under questioning from prosecutor Chris Lamiero, Nabors described how he and the defendants met Araujo when two of them went out and found her walking in the road carrying a beer. "My first impression was that she wasn't shy at all," said Nabors, who described Araujo as flirting with the four men almost immediately. Nabors said he brought up his questions concerning Araujo's gender but that no one, including himself, took it too seriously. Nabors described how he and Jose Merel went into a bedroom with Araujo and engaged in some petting. Court adjourned before Nabors began describing the night of the confrontation. He was expected to resume testimony on Monday. Earlier, Merel's younger brother Emmanuel, who had been at the house earlier in the evening of October 3, testified that he tried to push Araujo out the door to safety in the chaos that followed the discovery of the teen's gender. But Emmanuel said he was blocked by Magidson and Nabors. "I'm not necessarily sure how they stopped both of us at that time. I know that their force was what stopped us from getting her out the door," he said. Emmanuel said he left the house while Araujo was still alive. Outside the courtroom, Cazares's attorney, Tony Serra, compared Nabors to a "dead mackerel, slick on the outside but full of maggots." Serra said it might take hours but that he planned to undermine Nabors's credibility. "It's just like catechism; he's got it memorized," Serra said of Nabors's testimony, which was delivered calmly and sprinkled with words such as "colloquy." But, said the attorney, "I don't think he's going to be able to pull it off."

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