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Gwen Amber Rose Araujo (February 24, 1985 – October 4, 2002, née Edward Araujo, Jr.) was a transgendered teenager who died during or shortly after being attacked by multiple individuals. The events leading up to Araujo's death were the subject of a pair of criminal trials in which it was alleged that the attackers were angered by the discovery that Araujo — who, at the time, was living as female — was biologically male. In the most recent trial, two of the defendants were convicted of second-degree murder, but the jury concluded that no hate crime was committed. The circumstances of the case have caused it to become a rallying point for the LGBT community, and a number of underreported and controversial aspects about the case and about Gwen's murder remain points of contention. Araujo lived in Newark, California, USA. Family members report that she was a happy and energetic child who was always laughing and quite active. She expressed the desire to be female from an early age and, just prior to her death, had started to live as a woman. Araujo attended public school and a local church with family members until the controversy surrounding her transsexuality grew, at which time she began to withdraw socially. She stopped attending Newark Memorial High School prior to her graduation and began to look for work. She was unable to find a job, which her mother states was the result of intolerance created by her child's gradual transition between genders. Araujo, who was going by the name "Lida" at the time [2], was introduced to a circle of friends whom she met during a chance encounter while walking down a local street. The group of young adults enjoyed passing the evening hours with party activities that included playing dominos and consuming drugs and alcohol at the home of Araujo's to-be assailants. Araujo was reported to have engaged in sexual activities with at least two of the men from the group. A few weeks later, she was invited back to the house where a party was planned. She wore her mother's peasant blouse to the party, although her mother had asked her not to and expressed discomfort with Araujo's appearance. Araujo told her mother that she was just being jealous. This was the last time Sylvia Guerrero saw her child alive. At the party on (October 3, 2002) it was discovered, by forced inspection (conducted by a young woman at the party), that Araujo had male genitalia. In an explosion of activity, the men that she had had sexual relations with became extremely agitated. Once it was discovered that Araujo was biologically male, Mike Magidson began choking her in the hallway of the house. At this point numerous guests left the residence. Jose Merel and Jaron Nabors remained inside the residence with Mike Magidson. Jason Cazares claimed to go outside at this point; however he did not leave because he had arrived in Mike Magidson's truck. After everyone left, the three assailants continued assaulting Araujo, She was brutaly beat for about 5 hours. Jose Merel struck her over the head with a frying pan and then struck again with a can of tomatoes, causing a gash to her head which bled profusely. Jaron Nabors struck her with a barbell weight. Mike Magidson kneed her in the head against the living room wall, with such force that her head caused an indentation in the plaster wall. After this, Araujo was taken to the garage of the home and strangled with a rope (stories conflict as to whether Mike Magidson or Jaron Nabors strangled the victim). Most accounts have Jose Merel cleaning blood out of the carpet at the time she was strangled. She was then hog-tied, wrapped in a blanket and placed in the bed of a pick-up truck. The three assailants, plus Jason Cazares drove her body to parkland in El Dorado County, California, a wooded area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada known as Silver Fork, where she was finally buried in a shallow grave. It is not clear at what point during this sequence of events Araujo's death occurred. However, the autopsy showed that she died from strangulation associated with blunt force trauma to the head. Nearly two weeks passed before Araujo's body was discovered by the authorities. For fear of reprisal, the partygoers did not report the crime and the assailants all agreed not to say a word to anyone about the matter. Later, however, Jaron Nabors began talking to a friend about what happened. The friend called the police and Jaron Nabors was later detained and questioned. Under interrogation, Jaron Nabors disclosed the location of Araujo's body. Alameda County Sheriff's Office dispatched four crime scene investigators and two detectives who recovered the body at the gravesite. The deputies were led there on 16 October 2002 by Jaron Nabors, the youngest of the four individuals charged with the crime. The four accused of the murder were: Michael Magidson, 25, Jaron Nabors, 22, José Merél, 25 and Paul Merel, Jose's older brother. Paul Merel was quickly released because his girlfriend (the one who checked Araujo's genitalia in the bathroom) came forward to the police telling them that Paul had left that night with her. Paul Merel and his girlfriend were never charged and became witnesses for the prosecution. Nabors later testified against the other three in a deal with the DA for a lesser charge of manslaughter after police monitored a jailhouse letter and information gained during a wiretapped telephone conversation with one of the accused. Jason Cazares was arrested over a month after the other defendants, and only after Nabors implicated Cazares in a letter to Nabors' girlfriend, explaining how he (Nabors) wasn't involved in the killing. However, Nabors would later testify that he was involved in the killing, bringing into question the reliability of the letter. Additionally, Nabors' girlfriend testified that the letter contained numerous lies and Nabors frequently lied to her. Araujo's mother, who referred to her child as her little "Angel", has said publicly that she would like her daughter's case to be influential in changing the disciplinary actions for hate crimes resulting in death to include the death penalty. Sylvia Guerrero and her brother David Guerrero have appeared publicly and before national media to express their grief and to denounce violence against gender-variant youth. Those who knew Araujo were joined by hundreds of sympathizers for her funeral located at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Newark. Following the ceremonies, there was a march through main streets leading to the community's mall attended by community dignitaries and leaders. She was remembered again during the "Remembering Our Dead" vigils that took place in several major cities to commemorate the deaths of 27 transgender people during the 12 month period that contained Gwen Araujo's own death. A few days after the funeral, members of the Westboro Baptist Church (followers of Fred Phelps) picketed the church and also many other places around the Newark area including Newark Memorial High School where drama students performed The Laramie Project. At Araujo's mother's request, a judge posthumously changed Araujo's legal name from Eddie to Gwen on June 23, 2004. A Lifetime Network Movie called A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story, starring J.D. Pardo and Mercedes Ruehl, aired on June 19, 2006. On the first anniversary of the murder, Horizons Foundation created the Gwen Araujo Memorial Fund for Transgender Education to reduce ignorance and hatred against transgendered people. The Fund's purpose is to support school-based programs in the nine-county Bay Area that promote understanding of transgender people and issues, through annual modest-sized grants. Through this fund Araujo's mother and family speaks in middle and high schools about transgender awareness and understanding.

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