California

Teen murdered by 4 men when they discover she was transitioning 

October 4, 2002

Newark, California 

17-year-old Gwen Araujo is beaten and strangled by 4 men after it was revealed that she was a transgender woman 

Araujo, who had been going through hormonal treatments for her transition, was attending a house party. Also in attendance were Michael Magidson (22), Jaron Nabors (19), José Merél (22), and Jason Cazares (22). At some point during the party, Araujo’s transition was discovered, leading to a forced examination conducted by another person at the party Nicole Brown who reached under Araujo’s skirt to feel her genitals. 

Two of the men present, Magidson and Merél, had previously been intimate with Araujo and became enraged. Magidson vomited before placing Araujo in a chokehold and punching her face. Sometime afterwards, Brown and others at the party left. Araujo’s beating continued and she was hit in the head with a frying pan and canned food. Around this time, Cazares and Nabors left to retrieve pickaxes and shovels. When they returned, Araujo was still conscious on a couch. 

The assault resumed. Magidson kneed Araujo in the head which rendered her unconscious. She was kicked, strangled with rope, and hit over the head with a shovel. The men then hog-tied her body, wrapped it in a blanket, drove 4 hours, and buried her near the Sierra Nevada mountains. 

Nabors was seen looking distraught soon after the murder. He later led police to Araujo’s body in exchange for a voluntary manslaughter plea and an agreement to testify against the others; he was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Magidson and Merél were convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 15 years to life. Cazares pleaded no contest to manslaughter and received a sentence of 6 years. 

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