I could write up the details of the day in court I suppose, and given that there were very few community supporters there I suppose maybe I should just for the record but it would surely bore those who are not following the case. in fact some of what went on confused me because I did not read up on the particulars before going to observe. I didn't know, for instance, what was at stake in this endless talk of cell phone calls and who answered their phones and when, and I am not precisely sure what the effect of one witness's apparently inconsistent testimony will be.
the witnesses yesterday were a female inspector whose name I did not catch, Jaron Nabors' father (Jaron testified against the other three in return for a reduced sentence--I don't know if he testified in this trial or only in the first one), Manny Merel--one of the defendants' brothers, and Jason Cazares, himself a defendant.
the prosecution rested its case before Cazares took the stand, and as a result at the end of the day after the jury had been excused for the day all three defense lawyers motioned for some kind of lessening of the charges, or, in one case, a mistrial. the judge denied all the motions, and I suspect that this sort of thing happens as a matter of course, but when one of the lawyers asked that the hate crime charge be dropped, and another asked that his client be tried for manslaughter instead of murder, those of us on Gwen's side of the room (for we managed to segregate ourselves without asking where the defendants' friends and family were) held our breath for at least a moment.
the inspector was on the stand at the very beginning and revealed that Manny Merel's testimony was inconsistent with what he had told her at an informal interrogation before the trial. the defense attorneys got all riled about this, saying that they should have been informed of this piece of evidence, but the judge let it go eventually, saying they would call Merel back in the afternoon to question him again, which they did. his testimony seemed confused and not terribly believable, and had to do with where a car of one of the partygoers was and which way it drove off while Gwen was being beaten. I don't know what the significance of this is for the whole narrative, but the defense seemed a bit shaken.
Nabors' father's testified about a letter he had received from his son after his son had been arrested, and his testimony was also somewhat disingenuously vague and almost inconsistent in detail but I was never quite clear one particular point, and although the defense attorneys did question him closely, the one bit that confused me did not really get cleared up. in any case, I am not sure what was at stake here either, except for the possibility that Jaron himself was the sole murderer while the others looked on. it didn't seem to me that the defense got him to admit that his son might have written something incriminating to himself in the letter, even though it is the only letter that he received from his son at that time which he purposely destroyed.
finally, when Cazares took the stand, his lawyer was careful to make him out to be a somewhat unintelligent but hard working boy, and that really was about as far as we got. it seemed that his defense is going to be that he thought the other two were joking around when they started molesting Gwen, but court had to recess for the day before we really got very far with this. I so want to see him cross-examined, but I don't have the time to spend all day in Hayward today. plus it is too late now. court started an hour ago.
it was disturbing at times, seeing some of the physical evidence with bloodstains on it, and the hole in the wall that her head bounced off of when she was hit with the frying pan, and it was tense to sit there with the friends and family from both sides of the case. I found myself extremely upset with Cazares' family, thinking that surely they had some hand in raising a boy who would kill someone in "gay panic"--plus a priest showed up in the afternoon to watch him testify, which I thought was manipulative and emblematic of a certain hypocrisy of christian ethics which so often dictate that queers be shunned or worse.
I realize my thoughts about all this were somewhat prejudiced of course. I doubt his family was happy to hear that he had a hand in killing someone even if it was someone they would have a hard time accepting. still I got a little chill not unlike the one I sometimes get when out on the highway in middle america where I suspect if my secrets were known my life would be in danger. and of course the charge from the defense in this case is that Gwen should have told them right away that she was transsexual, but who in their right mind is going to tell a bunch of straight jock boys that they are queer before getting to know them? it's a no-win situation. you wish sometimes that these people could all get to san francisco before they get killed out there but of course she was practically here so obviously we are not as secure here as we might think.