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Fourth man
charged in death of transgender teen makes plea deal

Fourth man
charged in death of transgender teen makes plea deal

One of four men charged in the beating and strangulation of California transgender teenager Gwen Araujo pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter Friday. Juries had deadlocked in two previous murder trials. Under the plea agreement, Jason Cazares, 25, will spend no more than six years in prison, according to prosecutors. His sentencing is January 27. Araujo, 17, was beaten, tied up, and strangled on October 4, 2002, after men she had had sexual encounters with learned she was biologically male, according to authorities. Cazares claimed he was outside the house when his friends killed Araujo and helped only to bury the body in the Sierra Nevada foothills. A jury convicted Michael Magidson and Jose Merel, both 25, in September of second-degree murder but deadlocked 9-3 on the same charge for Cazares, prompting the judge to declare a second mistrial in his case. The fourth man charged in the case, Jaron Nabors, 22, was allowed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for his testimony against the others. Cazares's lawyer, Tony Serra, previously said his client would not plead guilty to any charge more serious than being an accessory after the fact. But after two mistrials, a possible conviction in the next trial was too much of a risk, he said Friday. "It probably would have gone the same way, but the risk is inordinate," Serra said. Araujo was born a boy named Edward but grew up to believe her true identity was female. The defendants, who knew her as Lida, met Araujo in the summer of 2002. The men discovered Araujo's biological gender during the deadly confrontation at Merel's house in the San Francisco suburb of Newark. Magidson and Merel were expected to be sentenced next month to 15 years to life in prison. Nabors was expected to be sentenced to 11 years. (AP)

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