Friday, June 10, 2005

Court Watch Update June 6th through June 8th

June 6th through June 8th 2005
Monday, court resumed with DA Chris Lamiero's direct examination, Jaron Nabors still on the stand. Nabors recounted the events of October 3rd into the early hours of October 4th, 2002. The account was consistent with last year's-- the 4 going to the Elephant Bar, then to Mango's, then ending up at the Merel house, and the rest.

An important piece--did Jason Cazares and Nabors fetch the shovels before--or after--Gwen's murder?--was again corroborated by Nabors. According to his testimony, after Jose Merel's assault on Araujo with the can of food and then the "skillet," Araujo was still alive, sitting on the couch. Cazares asks Nabors "Are you down?" and Nabors nods in the affirmative. They get Magidson's car keys, drive to the Cazares house and fetch the shovels. This is a key piece of testimony, and when Merel takes the stand, his attorney Bill Dubois has indicated he will back that up. It's crucial to the case against Cazares, who arguably has a chance at manslaughter, or even of going free.

Much will be discussed about Nabors' jailhouse letter to his girlfriend--how much was true, how much was bragging. Was he trying to manipulate the DA, the police? And how did he hurt his elbow? Nabors has chronic inflammation in his elbow--was it from holding his arms inside the shirt he was wearing, borrowed form Merel, so he wouldn't get his other shirt dirty, on the cold ride to Silver Fork, or some other way?

Lamiero concluded by asking him about his life in jail, where Nabors has been in Administrative Segregation, " (I.e. relative solitary confinement) for the past 2 years and 8 months. What does he do? Spends time "reading, exercising, studying Spanish, college entrance exams..." Lamiero asks him again, "Are you telling the truth?" Answers, "Yes."

And, although I think there is still more to the story--I believe him.

The thing that is striking about Nabors' testimony this time around, is the change in his demeanor. He looks defeated. In the words of one Guerrero family member, "This is a different guy from last year." It's true that he's lost 35 pounds, and apparently is plagued by nightmares of that night, what happened, what he did. The arrogance of last year is gone--this person on the stand now has maybe begun to realize there is no way out, and the price to pay immeasurable.

Cazares' lawyer, famous Tony Serra, made a motion to lift the gag order. The judge partially relented, but reminded Serra that he cannot impune the "credibility of a witness" (meaning Jaron Nabors as well.) "Well, Mr. Serra, discretion is the better part of valour, " Judge Sheppard joked. It seems like it must be very difficult for Serra to not be able to talk to the media. I mean--and this is just me--for an attorney with such an illustrious social justice law career and an obvious flare for showbiz, what's in it for him this time around? Without being able to go on TV, what are his perks? Although I agree that everyone is entitled to a defense, his client was there, he particiapted--Jason Cazares got the shovels--they were HIS shovels! Why Serra took Cazares as a client in the first place is a mystery, and I guess we'll have to wait for True Believer Part II to find out.

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