Sat, Jul 03, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Posthumous name change granted for transgender victim


In life, 17-year-old Edward Araujo Jr. wanted to be known by the name which her friends and family agreed best suited the transgender teenager: Gwen.

In death, the wish has been granted.

A judge posthumously granted the name change 18 months after Araujo was beaten and strangled and less than two weeks after a mistrial was declared in the case against three men accused in the killing.

"This is something that all of us have been waiting too long for," Araujo's mother, Sylvia Guerrero said in a statement on Thursday announcing the name change. "It is one of my regrets that I didn't call my daughter Gwen more while she was alive. Having this order granted helps me to put that regret to rest."

Guerrero had filed for the name change in May. Alameda County Superior Court Commissioner Thomas Surh called the request "a novel situation" and said he needed time to decide.

This week, the family learned that the name change had been granted on June 23.

"It's amazing. We're incredibly happy," said Christopher Daley, an attorney who handled the case.

Three men had been on trial for Araujo's death, Michael Magidson, Jose Merel and Jason Cazares, all 24. Magidson and Merel had sex with Araujo, and prosecutors said the three men killed Araujo after discovering she was biologically male.

But the case ended in a mistrial June 22 after jurors said they were deadlocked.

Prosecutors said they will retry the case, but no date was set.

Araujo's identity had been a big part of the trial. One defense attorney saying the crime was committed in a passion provoked by sexual deception.

Araujo's family said the defense unfairly blamed the victim and was untrue; they said Araujo had presented her true self.

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