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Gay Groups Ask for Leniency in Lawrence King Murder

Jim Burroway

April 15th, 2008

Lawrence KingA coalition of 27 LGBT activist organizations is urging the Ventura County, California District Attorney to charge 14-year old Brandon McInerney, Lawrence King’s murderer, as a juvenile. McInerney shot King, 15, point blank in the head on February 12th at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California. With hate crime enhancements, McInerney faces up to 27 years in prison if he is charged as an adult. But citing an overall “climate of intolerance and fear about sexual orientation and expression,” the coalition feels that prosecuting McInerney as an adult would “compound this tragedy with another wrong.”

The press release, which is not yet available online, reads:

A coalition of 27 groups fighting for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights today is urging Ventura County prosecutors to try 14-year-old Brandon McInerney in juvenile court, and not as an adult. McInerney has been charged as an adult in the February 12 murder of his E.O. Green Middle School classmate, 15-year-old Lawrence King. Students say McInerney targeted King because the victim was openly gay and because he wore women’s jewellery and makeup.

LGBT civil rights organizations, including Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Transgender Law Center, have delivered a short statement to Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten, calling on him to try McInerney as a juvenile.

“We are saddened and outraged by the murder of junior high school student Lawrence King,” the statement reads. “At the same time, we call on prosecutors not to compound this tragedy with another wrong “we call on them to treat the suspect as a juvenile, not as an adult.

“The facts in this matter seem clear: one boy killed another in a climate of intolerance and fear about sexual orientation and gender expression. The alleged perpetrator, who turned 14 years old less than three weeks before the shooting, should be held accountable for his actions. But we support the principles underlying our juvenile justice system that treat children differently than adults and provide greater hope and opportunity for rehabilitation. In addition, public safety is not served by treating children as adults. According to research released by the Centers for Disease Control in 2006, children transferred to adult court are more likely to re-offend than those committing similar offenses who remain in the juvenile justice system. California law does not require District Attorneys to prosecute 14 year-olds as adults, even in circumstances such as these, and we oppose them doing so. We are issuing this joint statement because we believe so strongly in principles of justice that protect all our young people and know that, even in the face of strong emotions, we should not abandon them. We refuse to let our sense of outrage blind us to the fact that the suspect is only 14 years old.

“Prosecuting the alleged perpetrator as an adult will not bring Lawrence King back nor will it make schools safer for LGBT youth. We must respond to this tragedy by strengthening our resolve to change the climate in schools, eliminate bigotry based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and hold schools responsible for protecting students against discrimination and physical harm.”

The list of signatories include: American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California; American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties; American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California; Ally Action (CA); Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE; national); Community United Against Violence (San Francisco); Different Avenues (DC); Equality California; Gay Straight Alliance Network (CA); Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD); Human Rights Campaign; LAGAI – Queer Insurrection; Lambda Legal; LifeWorks Mentoring (Los Angeles); Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center; National Black Justice Coalition; National Center for Lesbian Rights; National Center for Transgender Equality; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National; Safe Schools Coalition; San Francisco LGBT Community Center; Sylvia Rivera Law Project (New York); TGI Justice Project (CA); Transgender Law Center; The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (NY); TransYouth Family Allies, Inc.

Comments

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L. Junius Brutus
April 15th, 2008 | LINK

Ugh… disgusting. It’s not just the religious right that wants violent anti-gay bigots to be on the streets.

He should get life without the chance of parole, as murderers generally should.

Zeke
April 15th, 2008 | LINK

I agree with this group’s appeal. It’s the right thing to do. The homo/transphobic society that created this child is the most deserving of indictment.

I don’t think justice will be served by ending two childrens’ lives.

This kid should pay a price but he should be tried and punished as a child, not as an adult.

I can’t help but notice how, once again, it’s “heathen” gay groups and not “Christian” groups who are behaving with compassion and thoughtfulness; you know, “Christ-like”.

L. Junius Brutus
April 15th, 2008 | LINK

Zeke, that’s nonsense. MANY people are taught hatred by their parents, schools and peers, but not everyone takes it as far as this little punk did. If you want to argue that it’s society’s fault, then why is it that the millions of other anti-gay children didn’t go out and kill one of their classmates for this reason?

And putting a ruthless killer back on the streets is the least Christian thing I can think of. Compassion means having compassion for (future) victims, not just pro-criminal advocacy.

Adam Kautz
April 15th, 2008 | LINK

I agree with L. Junius. This kid when released from juvenile prison at 21 will then go on to think its ok to kill homos. What will you say then Zeke to the family of that person. This kid deserves at least 40 years in state prison for this vicious and unprovoked attack.

NG
April 15th, 2008 | LINK

I can’t believe 27 years is max he could get *after* the hate crime enhancements.

I’ve seen juvenile facilities up close. They are a revolving door for most offenders. While I don’t relish the idea of a third of this kid’s life being spent behind bars, until we figure out how to truly fix such abhorrent behavior, we have no choice but to lock people like this up for as long as possible. The rights of society to live freely and without fear of violence trump the rights of a criminal who has violated the rights of another.

Miles Gordon
April 15th, 2008 | LINK

No, no, NO! There is no way some sociopathic little antichrist who shoots another person in the head just because they ‘hate’ something about them should be shown any leniency. He’s a monster. Let him rot in hell. Society will be safer without him roaming the streets. I only wish that he could be executed – not even 27 years in prison will make him any less of a beast.

Fiona
April 16th, 2008 | LINK

My question is what do the family of Lawrence King want? They are the ones that lost the most. They are the victims left behind? If I were a judge, I would be listening to them more than any organization.

Zeke
April 17th, 2008 | LINK

Fiona, If Lawrence’s family was so involved with him and so victimized by his death then why was Lawrence living in a youth shelter and not at home with his “loving” family?

Jason D
April 18th, 2008 | LINK

Yes, what the kid did was wrong, but that’s the key word “kid”. The parents are most at fault for what Brandon did. They should be punished, and so should Brandon.

Our prison system is just a big networking event for criminals. They learn new crimes to commit, and develop new contacts for future crimes. He can only become worse, not better, if he’s sent to prison for decades.

I don’t believe a child is beyond redemption.

Sometimes the line between justice and vengeance is very thin.

wendy
April 18th, 2008 | LINK

I think it immensely admirable that these groups took this kind of position. I wish some anti-gay groups would sit up and take notice.
Whether you agree with the position or not, it demonstrates a commiment to the value of our shared humanity over mindless vengence that speaks volumes.

E.
May 4th, 2008 | LINK

I don’t think the max 27 years is enough.
The price for killing another fellow human being should the capital punishment. Only capital punishment can send the message across, make people think twice before killing.

Jason D
May 4th, 2008 | LINK

How long have we been doing capital punishment, and has that made any dent in the murder rate? Or has it just lead to more plea bargains and ridiculous defenses like gay panic?

Yuki Choe
May 4th, 2008 | LINK

So make the crime less punishable so that kids who are copy cat LGBT murderers next can roam around thinking they would probably be sentenced as a juvenile? We must be aware the kind of message we are sending out.

Children of today are exposed to more stuff then during our own childhoods. Kids today are not stupid. The murderer who took King’s life knew what he was doing when he suddenly woke up in the morning and instead of thinking about his education, he brought a gun to school and knew exactly where to point to and shoot at.

E.
May 4th, 2008 | LINK

Capital punishment is of no use unless they’re being carried out consistently for all murders. Only then will people take note. No body wants to give the death penalty so there should be no need to ask juries to decided if the murderer should be sentenced to death. This is a chance to step up, make an example of of this kid that a murder is a murder regardless of age.

Cely
October 3rd, 2008 | LINK

I dont know, I mean it seems bad ending the life of two kids,you dont know what kind of prob was the shooter going through maybe at home, maybe abuse who knows maybe even sexual abuse ??? But on the other hand think of the boy that got shot and his family put yourself in their place , what if it was your brother or your sister who got shot and you would never everrr get to speak to them again, hug them see them laugh, smile…. It makes me sad to look at the world as it is UGLY and not the way I used to look at it as a child iridecent. **
Its Hard !!!!! =(

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