The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Brandon McInerney Trial for Murder of Lawrence King Begins

In the trial for the killing of gay teen Lawrence King, 15, by classmate now 17-year-old Brandon McInerney, prosecutors are telling the jury the shooting was carefully planned. King was bullied by McInerney and others, and had on-going hostilities with the defendant that ended when McInerney allegedly pulled a gun from his backpack and shot King in the head in 2008.

Brandon McInerney is being tried as an adult for the killing.

The Oxnard case began with opening statements by Deputy Dist. Atty. Maeve Fox, reports the Los Angeles Times. The prosecutor described the ongoing arguments between the two boys, one who was more openly displaying his homosexuality as he gained confidence, and one the prosecution says was a white supremacist who believed homosexuality was an abomination. Due to this background, prosecutors have added a hate crime charge.

As expected, the case has brought out strong emotions in the gay community, which is seeking stronger protections for gay youth on school grounds, as well as in the observers and families of the victim and the defendant. The Times reports that because of an "inappropriate" plea to the jurors outside court regarding his brother's fate, Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell has banned James Bing, older brother of Brandon McInerney, from the courtroom.

McInerney's defense lawyers say the teen is not a white supremacist, just a student working on a paper about Adolf Hitler for school. They will also argue that McInerney was a confused kid from a violent home, provoked by Lawrence King's in so-called your face attitude toward his sexuality.

McInerney is being tried as an adult under the provisions of Proposition 21, which allows for juveniles as young as 14-years-old to face adult sentences for certain serious crimes. Under Prop 21, juveniles charged with murder, certain sex crimes, or gang-related crimes will be tried as adults and face adult penalties. In this case, if found guilty of second degree murder, Brandon McInerney faces a stretch in prison that could last until he is in his 70s.

No matter what the jury decides in this case, the damage has been done and two kids are gone; one in death and one who will never recover, even if he manages to stay out of prison.

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