Brandon McInerney, who was a fourteen-year-old Oxnard Middle School student when he shot Larry King in school at point blank range in 2008, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and the use of a fire arm in a plea deal which will result in a 21 year prison term in addition to time served. Under the terms of his plea deal, McInerney, who is now 17, will be released shortly before his 39th birthday. McInerney will be formally sentenced on December 19.
McInerney’s plea deal comes after a mistrial was declared in his first trial after jurors were unable to reach a verdict. They had deadlocked at 7 to 5 in favor of finding McInerney guilty of voluntary manslaughter, with the five holding out for either second or first degree murder.
The Gay and Lesbian Education Network’s Executive Director Eliza Byard applauded the plea deal:
“The plea deal announced today ends a tragic chapter in Ventura County. Holding Brandon McInerney accountable for his actions is necessary and right, but putting him behind bars does not solve the problems that led a boy to become a bully, and then a murderer. Homophobia and transphobia, compounded by the lack of counseling and other supports for struggling young people, resulted in Larry King’s death and the effective end of Brandon McInerney’s life. As adults and as a society, we must find the resolve to fix the broken systems that lost two young lives to hate and fear.
I echo Byard’s sentiments. I’ve always felt very uncomfortable with sending a fourteen-year-old to prison for the rest of his life. This, I think, strikes the right balance.