"Remember Lawrence King"

"Remember Lawrence King" by KaroliK on flickr. A handful of No on Prop 8 people representing. Lawrence King was murdered in cold blood by a classmate in his homeroom class here in Oxnard in February 2008. He was 14 years old.

Score another victory for blame-the-victim gay-panic defense strategy.

A jury has been unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of Brandon McInerney, the 17-year-old accused of shooting a gay classmate to death in 2008.

The jury began deliberating Friday, weighing eight weeks of testimony in a trial that included nearly 100 witnesses. Many of those testifying were students and teachers at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard who saw tensions on campus rising after 15-year-old Larry King began coming to school dressed in makeup and girl’s boots.

Because, you know, wearing makeup and girl’s boots means you deserve two bullets in the back of your head, point-blank range.

Over eight weeks of testimony, the prosecution laid out a case of premeditated murder by McInerney, who prosecutor Maeve Fox described as a bright boy from a broken and violent home who knew what he was doing when he brought a .22-caliber gun to school.

McInerney was upset that King had come up to him at school the day before and said, “What’s up, baby?” Fox said.

He told a defense psychologist that he found King’s attentions “disgusting” and “humiliating” and that King would have to pay for it. He told a school friend that he was going to bring a gun to school the next day, and he did, Fox said.

I fail to see what is unpremeditated about this pre-planned crime.

Oh, and according to his defense, the monster McInerney was a child when these events “occurred” and therefore shouldn’t be prosecuted as an adult. No mention by them of the lost childhood of Lawrence King.

Defense attorney Scott Wippert and co-counsel Robyn Bramson didn’t dispute that McInerney killed King. But they argued he was pushed to an emotional breaking point by King’s attentions toward him and the school’s failure to rein in King’s conduct.

They also appeared to reach out for jury sympathy by calling several of McInerney’s relatives to the stand to testify to the abuse the young boy suffered at the hands of his drug-abuser father.

If every parentally abused child killed a gay kid, we wouldn’t have any gay kids left on the planet. Plenty of people overcome parental abuse; their struggle shouldn’t be degraded by allowing a murder defendant use it to justify what he did to Larry King.

Our criminal justice system is entirely broken if the unsettling behavior of homicide victims is allowed as a justification for their murder, in middle school. This jury needs to do its job, not moan about how hard this decision is. It wasn’t hard for Brandon McInerney to get a gun and kill Larry King.

It shouldn’t be hard to convict him of that murder.

UPDATE: Mistrial


NEW YORK – The following is a statement from GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard about the mistrial declared today in the trial against Brandon McInerney, who was 14 when he murdered 15-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, Calif., on Feb. 12, 2008.

The jury could not reach an agreement on whether to find McInerney guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter. The prosecution and defense could reach a plea deal, or the prosecution could pursue a new trial.

“The mistrial declared today is hardly a surprise. This was always destined to be a case with little resolution and no winners, whatever the verdict. The central facts remain the same: homophobia killed Larry King and destroyed Brandon McInerney’s life, and adults failed both young men because of their own inability to deal forthrightly and compassionately with the multiple challenges they each faced. The jury’s indecision is a sad reflection of our collective inability to find common ground and invest in a better future for all youth and a culture of respect for all.”

Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge