Self-Defense Claimed in Beating Death of Man

Times Staff Writer

During a police interview three years ago, a transgender prostitute admitted beating an elderly man in a darkened bedroom but told authorities the blows were in self-defense after the 78-year-old widower became violent.

James Cid, 31, who uses the name Jamie, told detectives that retiree Jack Jamar offered Cid a car ride, then took the defendant to his house in east Ventura, produced a gun and threatened to shoot if Cid didn't undress for sex.

"He tried to rape me," Cid said during a videotaped interrogation, which was played for jurors Monday in Ventura County Superior Court. "I needed to get out of there, he was coming at me ... I was just trying to get away."

Jamar was found lying in his blood-stained bed on March 10, 2000, by Ventura police officers investigating a possible robbery. He had suffered severe blows to the head and died two months later at a local hospital.

Eighteen days after the assault, Cid was arrested near the Mexican border. Prosecutors say Cid stole Jamar's wallet, bought a car and headed out of town with a boyfriend. They have charged Cid with murder and robbery.

During an interview with Ventura police detectives in San Diego County, Cid initially denied being in Jamar's house but later called Jamar "scum" and admitted hitting him in the head, according to the videotape.

When confronted about the missing wallet, Cid told detectives: "I don't remember anything about that; all I remember is fighting for my life."

Prosecutors contend the defendant was working as a prostitute and stole about $1,200 following a struggle with Jamar in the retiree's bedroom during which Cid assaulted the man.

Defense attorneys maintain Cid is innocent, and acted in self-defense after being attacked.

Attorney Robert Sheahen told jurors in opening statements that his client is nonviolent and had ended up on the streets after being ostracized as a teenager because of a gender-identity disorder. The defense is expected to begin its case today.

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