by P. Espinoza, CUAV
Today ADA Chris Lamiero made his final closing argument. He began by talking about Jaron Nabors’ answer to a question posed to him during cross-examination. He was asked to explain how people are supposed to know when he (Nabors) is telling the truth and when he isn’t. To this Nabors answered, “In the absence of predated confidence, all we’re left with is rational perception”. If you recall from yesterday’s closing arguments, Jose Merel’s attorney DuBois referred to this comment by Nabors as a “Jaronism”, a comment so out there and irregular, that it simply baffles folks… and that this is how Jaron talks in order to appear witty or smart.
Today the ADA went on to explain why Nabors answered in such a way. That it was a quote from a book by Ayn Rand that ADA Lamiero had recommended to Nabors during their one-time meeting in which they spoke. The ADA said he theorized that this was a way of letting on that he had read the book.
He went on to talk a little about a story in the book in which a millionaire, whose family made a fortune mining copper, had always had ‘the Midas touch’ when it came to investments. This man decided to invest in something that crashed horribly and suddenly he was a pariah when it came to investments, and he was told so by a fellow industrialist who owned a steel manufacturing company. The point of this story? The DA said, “well I don’t really know why I’m telling you this today”, but his point was well taken by this observer… people really like you until you do something wrong, then they turn their back on you because it doesn’t benefit them to know you and be around you. And I think that is what happened to Jaron, he was suddenly ‘persona non grata’ for telling the truth and saving his own butt.
But, you can draw your own conclusions. Thus the one point of all of this is, as the ADA put it, "You the jury must weigh testimony and witnesses not by predated confidence, but by your own rational perception… who seems honest to you, who doesn’t… what do you believe was physically possible and what you believe is not, based on your own judgment…" That is what the jury is being asked to do, judge these men based on their own criteria and the criteria of the letter of the law.
ADA Lamiero then brought out a blown-up picture of Gwen mounted on poster-board, put it on the easel directly in front of the jury, and told them he would be referring to the victim as Gwen, that he would be referring to her as ‘she’ and ‘her’, because that is who she was. He explained that he wasn’t doing it for the media, not for the family, not for himself, but because she was who she was… a young, beautiful woman who lived her truth.
He then went into talking about Serra’s closing argument (Cazares’ attorney), asking the jury to think about why Serra spent ninety minutes of his closing argument talking about manslaughter, when he has maintained that his client is not guilty of killing the victim. Why would he do that? Because he knows that there is a very good chance that his client will be found guilty. The ADA reiterated how Serra made a crucial slip-of-the-tongue during his closing argument in saying that either Jaron Nabors committed 1st –degree murder or aided & abetted. Here Serra admits that someone committed 1st- degree murder! Someone is guilty of that! (according to Serra) Who could it be! That’s up to the jury to decide.
Lamiero then spoke of the ridiculous assertion by Serra that his client “had been punished enough” serving two years in jail after being arrested… that this is enough and he should be given a break… poor guy! It was truly a sad thing to hear that Serra thought Gwen’s life was not worth much more. Lamiero continued asking the jury to really consider how ridiculous that was… how unjust that was to even consider cutting these guys some slack, since they’ve served a couple of years. Cazares is out on bail, he reminded folks… he gets to be with his family, but Gwen is never coming back, she’s never going to grow up and live her future potential as a human being on this planet… she was not given a chance to present her case for defense… she’s gone… she’s never coming back! But that we should feel sorry for these guys because they have been punished enough?! The ADA really made it clear how absurd that sounds… how unjust that is to Gwen.
He continued by asking an important question about Jason Cazares: when did his attitude change from being the one to pull Michael Magidson off Lida, to being the guy that turns to Jaron Nabors and asks him, “Jaron, are you down?” (meaning are you gonna go all the way with this, with us?) When did this sudden change occur? It occurred the minute Nicole Brown and Paul Merel left the house. That, the DA wanted to reiterate, is the kind of person Jason Cazares is. He also stated how during his closing, Serra seemed to want the ADA to “vouch” for Nabors (you can’t do that!), that Serra wanted to emphasize the importance of 12 individual verdicts… because he knows that the chances are bad for his client… that he may be seen by the jury as the violent, pathetic person who would do anything for his “brother” Mike (Magidson).
Mr. Lamiero reiterated that the reality is, attorneys are looking for the most favorable light for their clients, not a “search for the truth”… this is what these defendants get a chance to obtain--a favorable light that was never offered to Gwen (Her name has been trashed by these attorneys, both in last year’s trial and again in this trial). He brought up the Edgar Allan Poe story Serra used in his closing argument. The story published in 1838 tells of a prince who decided to have his privileged friends join him in his luxurious comfortable surroundings, wall themselves off from the outside world and avoid the plague, only to find out at the end of their lavish masquerade party that one of the guests had concealed his having the plague by wearing a mask at the party. When this was discovered is was too late, they had all been exposed. The ADA asked if this is how we are to think of Gwen, as someone carrying something contagious? This is what Serra wants the jury to believe, by comparing her genitalia being forcibly exposed, to the guest at that Masquerade party being discovered as a carrier of the plague. He turned to Gwen’s picture, and asked if that is what we are supposed to believe? That this young person who is dead is to be considered with contempt for exposing the defendants to some “contagion”? “How dare they”, he said. He asked the jury to look at the reality of what is going on here--they are being distracted with these obscene comparisons… that what is true is that the whole defense is like a mackerel a few days gone… it’s shiny and looks good, but when you cut it open, there is no meat to it… there is no meat to their story.
He went on to talk about how Serra is asking the jury to believe that this killing happened in a “heat of passion”. But Lamiero reminded the jury that a “heat of passion” killing is still murder. Someone died at the hands of another. And he pointed to Michael Magidson and stressed that he was a pathetic, weak, narcissistic (pause) person who “did the deed” and then wanted to “pass the buck” onto Jose Merel [at one point, before they got arrested, Magidson told Jose that if the cops came to the (Merel) house asking questions, that Jose should tell them that he and Jason weren’t there that night. What a friend!]
He further stressed that he does not believe for one minute the “blowjob in the bathroom” story that Magidson told police: that when he had dragged Gwen into the bathroom to check her genitalia by force, that she coaxed him into letting her give him oral sex so she could distract him from making her show him her genitals. The ADA said he firmly believed that Magidson was already convinced that Gwen was “a guy” and that he was angry about it, and he was going to expose her, and wherever that lead to, he was ready. The ADA also pointed out that he didn’t believe that Magidson was taking Gwen into the bathroom to expose her vagina so his “brother” Jose wouldn’t be upset. This was all B.S.
He also wanted the jury to know that Jaron Nabors was the only one of the four that came forward; he led police to the body… the body of a person who probably wouldn’t have ever been found. He allowed for the family to have closure.
A little later in his argument, Lamiero said that in his opinion Thorman, Magidson’s attorney, doesn’t find it an honor to know and represent Magidson as he had said in his closing. Lamiero didn’t believe it. At this point Serra objected, saying opinion of the DA is irrelevant and inappropriate in this case. The judge sustained the objection.
What it boiled down to, the ADA stated, is that the defense attorneys in this case want the jury to believe that Jaron Nabors admitted to killing Gwen… that he alone grabbed her, beat her, tied her up, strangled her. But more importantly, the DA stated that once this strategy backfired on the attorneys, they had Magidson testify that “he went blank” with rage, and “didn’t know why” he did it. (Did what?! Hmmmm….)
Another point the ADA made was that it was very interesting to know that Paul Merel does not recall standing outside the house that night, talking to Jason Cazares (as Jason testified to) about going to Lake Tahoe. This is what Cazares wants the jury to believe, that he was outside when Gwen was being beaten. That he didn’t play a role in that. Serra wants the jury to look at Nicole Brown’s testimony with regard to that time-frame when she and Paul were leaving the house, when the interrogation of Gwen had already started, to try and put his client Cazares out of the picture. But DA Lamiero encouraged the jury to look at Nicole’s testimony… she knew what was happening, she knew that everyone in that house would be seen a complicit in what was happening and whatever would happen. In other words, she knew what they were capable of, those of the four that she knew the best: Michael, Jason, and Jose. She didn’t know Jaron Nabors very well. (remember, he was the tag-along).
Mr. Lamiero also wanted to talk particularly about how the defense had criticized him for the way he treated Jose Merel on the stand. They stated how he was treated differently than Magidson and Cazares. They at different points asserted that the DA treated Nabors and Merel nicely, and treated the other two roughly. The DA said that he knew Nabors was lying, and we could all see that Merel was not telling us what he knew. He chose to dodge questions and give vague answers. The DA stated that he set Merel apart for a reason: the other defendants used his house as their own private bar, their playground where “they would do the shit they couldn’t do in their own houses”; they treated this house as their bachelor pad of sorts where they would drink, smoke out, bring girls over. This was their “safe haven” as one of the defense attorneys described… and this “safe haven” was disrupted by Gwen. And she had to be punished for that. The DA then looked again at Magidson and stated that he may have put the rope around the victim’s neck and strangled her, but (sarcastically) give him a break, he’s a good person. That is what the defense wants the jury to conclude.
In further response to the topic of the ADA being easier on Nabors and Merel, Mr. Lamiero wants the jury to understand that Jose was treated differently on the stand compared to Mike & Jason because what the he is requesting is an adequate distribution of responsibility for this crime. That is justice. And he is asking that the jury not be swayed by phony character witnesses like Efren, a gay guy from the Castro who came to testify about what a great guy Magidson is… asserting he’s not homophobic.
Then Mr. Lamiero spoke up a bit and said, “So then this must have been a suicide. She just have killed herself”. He sarcastically proclaimed that this must have been her wanting to die, that she wanted to die because she spoke up for herself as she was being beaten, and she knew she would die because of it. How dare she try and stop this!
The defense wants the jury to believe that there was no premeditation, no malicious aforethought, that Magidson is to be protected by casting reasonable doubt as to whether this was planned. So the ADA asked the jury to ask themselves: what motivates an advocate, a defense lawyer? They want to prevail, of course, but what motivates them more is the fear that they won’t be believed… that the jury won’t give them what they want.
In closing, Lamiero asked that Jason Cazares and Michael Magidson be convicted of 1st-degree murder, but that if they conclude that it’s 2nd –degree that they unanimously agree and bring back a murder conviction. The ADA wants to give justice to the victim and peace to her family. He further stated that he leaves the fate of Jose Merel up to them, that they have to weigh the evidence and decide his level of guilt in this crime.
Now we wait…