Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Court Watch July 18th-19th (Connie Champagne)

Since my last posting, ADA Chris Lamiero has finished presenting the prosecution's case and currently, defendant Jason Cazares is on the stand.

Recapping the prosecution: after Nicole Brown, both Merel brothers (older brother Paul and Emmanuel), several law enforcement officials, the psychiatric social worker at Santa Rita, a classification specialist from the jail who evaluated Jaron Nabors (and also monitored his mail), the forensic analyst, Cazares' other girlfriend Deanna (cell phone records show he spoke with her after 3 in the morning, and she testified hearing Jose Merel shouting), Jose Merel's father, Jaron Nabors' father, and lastly the DA's Inspector Kathy Boyovich offered testimony. Emmanuel Merel was recalled to the stand, due to some conflicts in his testimony regarding the direction of Nicole Brown's car. Defense attorneys motioned for a mistrial; it was not granted. They also motioned for reduced charges, elimination of the hate crime penalty etc. The judge denied all the motions. I am told this is standard in a murder case, and I do remember similar motions from last year.

Mr. Serra began direct examination of his client Jason Cazares. Just as he did last year, Serra tried to paint a picture of a salt-of-the-earth guy who dropped out of high school to go to work, a "family man." On the stand, Cazares was vague about the events that transpired the night of the murder, again repeating "I was drunk." He did say he remembers smoking cigarettes and discussing a trip to Tahoe the following Saturday with Paul Merel while the mayhem was going on inside the house.

Paul Merel testified he never had that conversation with Cazares.

At one point, Mr. Lamiero made an objection that Serra was leading the witness--
Serra: "Why didn't you want to be confronted by the media?"
Cazares: "Who does?"
Serra: "Yes, but weren't you afraid of retribution by the victim's family?"
Cazares: "Well, yes..."

This line of questioning went on for awhile until finally, Lamiero objected. The objection was sustained. Mr. Lamiero began his cross examination of Cazares during the afternoon--thanks to Cecilia, Patricia, and several other community folks for being there--and thank you Vanissar and Chris for your detailed blogs.

I am grateful that the LA Times wrote about this blog, and we're getting some amazing feedback. Although the writer quoted me somewhat out of context--I did not say that there's "none of the transphobia"in the trial this time around--I did say that:
  • I see the effect that education has had on our communuties, the compassion that folks have toward one another.
  • I see straight allies giving support to queer folks. And queer folks responding in kind.
  • I have heard from educators who want to invite trans folks into their classrooms, in an effort to educate their students--to try and prevent something this horrible from ever happening to anyone again.
  • I see slow but important change, which is evident especially in the language that educators, allies, parents, the press (thank you Oakland Tribune), and even law enforcement use--and I know it's because of the work that we have done and continue to do.
And, I did say that Merel's attorney Mr. Dubois and Mr. Serra, in their opening statements, seem to have changed strategies--(the differences in the defense tactics are outlined really well in Chris' posting.) However, Magidson's attorney Michael Thorman continues to use extremely transphobic rhetoric, and seems to hold Gwen responsible for her own murder. He implies that she "robbed" these men of their heterosexuality, and that somehow justifies their rage. That tactic has not changed, and I suspect Thorman will pursue that line of questioning passionately when his client takes the stand.

Court resumes tomorrow at 9 AM.


Anonymous Emi, Seattle, WA said...

I just want to say thank you so much for posting this blog. I have never had an opportunity to follow a case like Gwen's so closely. The facts seem so obvious to me that her attackers are guilty, guilty, guilty. Good luck with the case!!

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer Leitham said...

You are providing an invaluable service to our culture. I am grateful for your diligence.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the story in the Los Angeles Times paper.Gwen's beauty caught my attention to read about her story,ever since I've tried to follow what I can about the case. I tore out the blog address and looked into the story tonight. It was very wrong what those monsters did to her. No one has the right to take anothers life.........but in the same token,I feel there was betrayal on Gwens part. ALWAYS be up front about who you are heteralsexual,homosexual,or transexual....you are who you are and be proud. Rest in peace beautiful one.

7:30 PM  
Blogger wicked_girl said...

I'm not sure if I agree with what anonymous said completely. The part I do agree with is that it was wrong what those monsters did to Gwen. But I'm not sure if I understand how you feel that there was betrayal on Gwen's part for this.

Definitions of "sex" in terms of female and male differences have been constructed through time and have meant different things across different cultures (see Timothy Taylor's book "The Prehistory of Sex" or some work by Thomas Laqueur who's chronicles evolving defintions of sex throughout history).

What I personally find interesting is that despite humankind's definitions of sex, which in North America is pretty much: penis=male and vagina=female, biology and medical science speak of differences that haven't been socially constructed, and they don't match our current conceptions of sex.

There is a huge diversity and variability within sexes, moreso than between sexes. That means that there are many different kinds of women (some are taller, stronger, without the ability to reproduce, etc...) and there are different kinds of men (some who are shorter, perhaps not as strong). Truth is, there ARE women with penises and there ARE men with vaginas. And besides the focus on anatomical sex, there are many other determinants of sex besides anatomy (see work by Diamond, Sampson, Kruijver,)

It wasn't Gwen's job to educate these men that there are different kinds of women in this world. As if they would have listened anyways! It's not like you'll learn this in school when you're growing up, and they probably wouldn't have believed her anyways.

If I can put forth a bit of personal philosophy here, I think there is a kind of individual path (some may call it spiritual) that is actually politcally correct because it doesn't judge people by
race or creed, but by the attainable, equal opportunity criterion of intelligence.

There are ways for people to educate themselves, if those men or anyone else chooses not to educate themselves on our own human culture and diversity, then shame on them I say. They are the ones to blame for their own ignorance, not Gwen.

I think the matter of not revealing her anatomical sex to them before they became intimate has nothing to do with betrayal. I'm not saying I would do the same thing if I were in that situation, but you can't call that betrayal on her part for someone else's ignorance.

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Anonymous Patty Zacharias said...

I am so saddened by this entire story I am angry with myself for just hearing about this so long after the murder happened I just watched the movie and what those young men did to her was hateful and beyond anything that this country should ever let go unpunished these men should be punished for life I would like to know what happened to the girl that started this entire ordeal I truly hope she did not get away with her actions my heart and prayer goes out to the entire family I am so proud that they have the courage to stand by there daughter to make sure that they are heard to try and stop all this anger we have in this world about anything that is different Gwen seemed to be not just beautiful out side but inside she seemed to be a lovely person I know I would have been proud to call her my friend

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