FREMONT — One of three men charged in the slaying of a 17-year-old Newark boy who sometimes passed as a girl pleaded innocent in Alameda County Superior Court in Fremont this Thursday morning.
Attorney Robert J. Beles entered the plea in the courtroom of Judge Dennis J. McLaughlin as he stood beside his client, Jaron Chase Nabors, 19, of Newark, who was dressed in red jail garb.
“The plea is not guilty to the charge of murder and adamantly denying the hate clause,” Beles said.
The other two defendants, Michael William Magidson, 22, of Fremont, and Jose Antonio Merel, 22, of Newark, were also in court Thursday but did not enter pleas.
All are being held without bail and are scheduled to return to court on Nov. 8.
On Friday, the three men were charged with one count each of murder, along with a special hate-crime enhancement, in connection with the killing of Eddie Araujo.
The alleged murder occurred at a party in Newark on Oct. 3 when it was learned that Araujo, who was dressed as a girl and went by the name “Lida,” was actually a boy.
Sylvia Guerrero, Araujo's mother, reported her son missing on Oct. 5. Law enforcement agents unearthed the boy's body from a shallow grave in the El Dorado County wilderness east of Placerville on Oct. 16. According to court records, Nabors led investigators to the gravesite.
Outside of the courthouse Thursday, Guerrero, flanked by family members, cried and held her hand to her chest as she read from a brief statement in front of a bank of microphones.
“I loved my child beyond words,” she said. “I gave my child life and I simply cannot understand how anyone else thought they had the right to take the life which I gave him.”
Attorney Gloria Allred of Los Angeles, who is representing Guerrero, said hate crimes should be of particular concern to the community because they represent an attack against someone based on factors over which a person has no control.
“Eddie Araujo felt that he was a female trapped in a man's body,” Allred said. “In appearing as a female he was being honest about who he felt he was.”
Beles, Nabors' attorney, said after the three-minute court appearance that he has seen no evidence so far that indicates that his client in any way participated in any physical attack on Araujo.
“It's a tragic case,” he said in the hallway outside the courtroom. “When all the facts are in ... it's not going to be a pretty picture.”
He reiterated, though, that his client is innocent of the charges against him.
“There's not a shred of homophobia in my client's background or in his nature,” he said. “My client has no biases in that regard.”
A funeral service for Araujo is scheduled for today at 2 p.m. at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Newark.