Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Case submitted to jury (CWD)

Hey everyone -

this case is now in the hands of the jury. They should begin the meat of their deliberations tomorrow (8-30-05). It is impossible for me to predict how long the deliberations will take, but keep in mind that they have to review many weeks worth of evidence as well as the culpability (or lack thereof, I guess) of each of the three defendants.

Some quick notes on DDA Lamiero's rebuttal from this morning:

Lamiero spent approximately 90 minutes going back over the case with the jury this morning. He divided up his time between stepping up his comments on Jason's role, slapping down the arguments proffered by Mike and Jason's attorneys, and taking some uncharacteristically sharp jabs at Serra and Thorman.

Seemingly making up for any lack of focus on Jason Cezares in his initial closing statement, Lamiero definitely pointed his finger at Jason this morning. He spent a little bit of time elaborating on Jason's role and identified him as the one controlling the pace of events. Recognizing that Jason initially stepped in to stop Mike from harming Gwen, Lamiero attributed this to the presence of other people in the house rather than any concern for Gwen. Once those other people left, Lamiero theorized, Jason gave Mike the "go ahead" to do to Gwen whatever he wanted. Lamiero then told the jury that, to him, this kind of conduct is sufficient to meet the requirement for aiding and abetting a murder (and therefore qualifying for a murder conviction).

Making some additional comments about Mike's culpability, Lamiero spent a chunk of time taking apart the arguments of Serra (Jason's attorney) and Thorman (Mike's attorney). Recognizing that each of them is a skilled advocate, Lamiero made sure that the jury realized that each is an advocate for their own client and that neither is looking for the "truth" in this proceeding. Alternating between the two, Lamiero ridiculed their calls for leniency for their clients, the idea that the Merel home was a sanctuary, any argument that Jason was guilty of manslaughter, and their attacks on the prosecutions use of Jaron Nabors.

Finally, first the first time that I can remember, Lamiero went after Serrra and Thorman personally. He stated that Thorman was lying when he told the jury that he was honored to have represented a young man of Mike’s character. He accused Serra of sleeping through Jaron’s testimony and being way off in some of his philosophical meanderings about gender. I’m not sure what brought on these attacks or exactly where they played in his larger strategy, but after two years of dealing with these guys antics it’s not hard to understand if they were simply expressions of frustration and exasperation.

Lamiero closed his rebuttal by again asking for 1st degree murder for Mike and Jason. Just like last week, though, he told the jury that if all they could agree to was 2nd degree that they should come back with it to put some closure on this case. He again told the jury that he didn’t have a recommendation for Jose’s conviction, but reminded them that he thought Jose was less culpable than the other two.

It’s been a long re-trial. We could have a quick verdict or the jury could spend just as long as last year (let’s hope not). I hope everyone from the Bay Area who is reading this will make an effort to get to the SF LGBT Center (www.sfcenter.org) the day the jury comes down for a press conference and rally at 6pm.

Chris Daley
Transgender Law Center


Blogger Karen said...

I was present in court for ADA Chris Lamiero's rebuttal argument, the reading of the jury instructions to the jury, and for the moment when the jury was handed the case to begin their deliberations.

It was an intense day. I believe Mr. Lamiero was very effective in his rebuttal argument. Mr. Lamiero has done his very best in his efforts to find justice for Gwen. Of that there is no doubt. Mr. Lamiero should be applauded for his exemplary efforts on Gwen's behalf.

It was a surreal moment, as the jury retired to begin their deliberations. Each and every member of the jury had a similar look of stone faced resolve as they walked single file out of the court. There was something more I could sense in their collective expressions. There seemed to be a collective awareness of the difficult experience they were all now beginning.

I cannot actually know what the jurors were thinking. But, I do believe Mr. Lamiero's rebuttal argument did refocus the jury's attention on Gwen. I left the court feeling this jury will do their best to bring closure and justice, in this case, to Gwen Araujo and her family.

Now, we must be patient and let this jury do their work. We must be strong.

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