Community: 2, Transgender Panic: 0
Araujo Defendants Sentenced, AB 1160 Advances
San Francisco, CA - Three defendants in the 2002 murder of Bay Area transgender teen, Gwen Araujo, were sentenced to prison one day after landmark legislation, the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victim's Act, passed through the California Assembly. Michael Magidson and Jose Merel were in the Hayward County Superior court to be sentenced on their second-degree murder convictions. Jason Cazares was being sentenced to six years in accordance with plea to voluntary manslaughter charges.
"This is a day we have long awaited," said Transgender Law Center Deputy Director, Cecilia Chung. "While seeing anyone sentenced to prison is no reason for celebration, today marked further proof that transgender panic strategies do not have traction with Bay Area juries. Despite their attempts to blame Gwen for her own murder, these men are being held accountable for their horrific choices."
In Sacramento, Assemblymember Sally Lieber's legislation, AB 1160, passed on a party-line vote on Thursday January 26th. The bill, sponsored by Equality California, is the first in the country to offer a response to defendant's who attempt to use societal bias against their victims as a means of getting a "get out of jail free card." The bill clearly states that bias against victims should never be a factor in determining the culpability of the people who are accused of committing crimes against them.
"The Gwen Araujo Justice for Victim's Act is a modest effort to ensure that the same societal bias that led to the death of Gwen isn't used against people like her to lessen the guilt of murders," said Christopher Daley, TLC's Director. "The wholly inadequate plea bargain reached in 2005 by the Fresno County District Attorney's office in the murder of Joel Robles is clear evidence of the need for this kind of action."
The Transgender Law Center, founded in 2002, provides legal services to transgender people and their families throughout California and promotes common-sense public policy solutions to widespread gender identity discrimination.