A transgender prostitute who pummeled a 78-year-old retiree during a scuffle in the man's bedroom was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter Thursday after jurors rejected a more serious charge of murder.
James Cid, 31, who uses the name Jamie, wept as the verdict was read in Ventura County Superior Court.
Prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder and robbery conviction for the slaying of widower Jack Jamar, arguing that Cid deliberately beat Jamar and stole his wallet before fleeing the area.
Cid was apprehended in San Diego County after the March 10, 2000, assault, and admitted in a police interview to hitting and kicking Jamar in the man's east Ventura home.
Cid insisted during the interview that he acted in self-defense after Jamar tried to rape him.
The jury ultimately rejected the prosecution and defense theories.
Outside the courtroom Thursday, three jurors told reporters that prosecutors were unable to prove premeditation or malice, and that the elements for robbery were not proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
But jurors also decided the evidence did not support Cid's claims of self-defense based on the testimony of a crime-scene expert who found blood spattered on the bottom of a bedroom dresser, suggesting that Jamar was on the floor during at least part of the altercation.
"There was spirited discussion over what was self-defense," juror Denise Barnett said.
Barnett said that after seven days of painstaking deliberations, during which the jury asked questions and heard testimony over and over again, the group agreed the evidence pointed to manslaughter. It also found Cid guilty of petty theft instead of robbery.
Barnett and juror Tina Dwyer said they all had different opinions and theories and worked hard just to develop a list of facts they could agree upon. In the end, they said, it was still not clear what actually occurred in Jamar's bedroom.
Defense attorneys Robert Sheahen and Moriya Christie praised the jury for its work and called the outcome an example of how the criminal justice system is supposed to operate.
"Jamie Cid's vindication is a tribute to our system of justice," Sheahen said. "We are thrilled."
Deputy Dist. Atty. John West could not be reached for comment.
At the trial, West tried to show that Cid beat Jamar, a retired businessman who was known to pick up prostitutes, into a coma and took his wallet after Jamar brought Cid to his Varsity Street house for sex.
According to testimony, police officers responding to a possible robbery found a seriously injured Jamar in the bedroom, bleeding from head wounds and wearing only a T-shirt.
Jamar's injuries were so severe, West told jurors, that "officers initially thought Jack was shot in the head." Jamar, whose teeth were knocked into his stomach during the assault, later died, and prosecutors charged Cid with murder and robbery.
But Sheahen told jurors his client, whom he described as a nonviolent individual who suffers from a gender-identity disorder, acted in self-defense after being attacked by Jamar.
Cid faces up to 12 years in prison when sentenced April 24 but could receive as few as four years, most of which has already been served in County Jail.