The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Brandon McInerney Trial for Death of Lawrence King Ends in Mistrial

The tragic story of the death of gay middle school student Lawrence King ended with little resolution after a Ventura County judge declared a mistrial in alleged killer Brandon McInerney's trial, reports the Los Angeles Times.

After 17 hours of deliberation, jurors could not agree whether to convict now 17-year-old McInerney and deadlocked on a vote of 7 to 5 in favor of voluntary manslaughter. When a case becomes impracticable or impossible to finish a case, a mistrial is granted. Upon hearing the news, McInerney's mother sobbed into her hands while King's parents stormed from the courtroom before the judge could finish.

If a case ends in a mistrial, prosecutors have the option of re-prosecuting in certain situations, such as when a mistrial is declared with the defendant's consent or if the mistrial resulted from "manifest necessity." The latter standard is usually satisfied in the case of deadlocked jurors. Thus, resolutions for both McInerney and King's family will have to wait until prosecutors announce their decision on whether they will re-prosecute. If they choose to bring a second case against McInerney, they will also have to decide if they will try him as an adult again.

"He's going to be locked up for a very, very long time and I want him to have a date on the calendar when he can get out," Robyn Bramson, one of McInerney's defense attorneys, said.

The events that led to Lawrence King's death and McInerney's trial stunned the community of Oxnard and brought out strong emotions in the gay community. McInerney allegedly shot King twice in the back of the head in a E.O. Green Junior High computer lab in 2008. During the trial, the prosecution argued it was a premeditated murder perpetrated by a budding white supremacist who hated gays, which also constituted a hate crime. The defense countered with a depiction of McInerney as an abused boy tortured by his drug-abuser father who was being sexually harassed by King. They called for voluntary manslaughter instead of murder.

Fingers were also pointed at school administration officials who were accused of both turning a blind eye to the harassment of King, as well as not stopping King's flamboyant behavior that allegedly made students uncomfortable.

In the end, jurors couldn't agree on a conviction due to the emotionally raw and gut-wrenching issues and facts presented, King's attorney Scott Wippert told the Times.

Until prosecutors decide whether they will begin a new Brandon McInerney trial, the fate of the defendant and a resolution for Lawrence King's family will be left unsettled.

Related Resources: