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Posts for December, 2011

McInerney sentenced; King’s adopted father conveniently blames the money source

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

December 20th, 2011

As anticipated, Brandon McInerney was sentenced to 21 years in jail – with no parole opportunities – for his cold blooded murder of fellow classmate Lawrence King, a 15 year old gay boy.

I will never forget this story. But not just because Larry King was murdered.

Because as foul as King’s murder, was his character assassination. With King no longer alive to defend or explain himself, those with an interest in casting him in the role of ‘evil homosexual vampire’ faced little opposition. Instead, a chorus of defenders of the neo-Nazi sociopath – from sources that still leave me amazed – leaped at the opportunity to portray Larry as a predator who (as jurors put it) “tormented McInerney to the breaking point” by flirting. Oh, clarification: “aggressive flirting”.

To be honest, there have been times during this ordeal that I have felt like I am the only person attempting to speak on Larry’s behalf.

The first to hint that King got what he had coming was Ramin Setoodeh, a Newsweek gossip writer who went to Oxnard, spoke with the defense counsel and some homophobic teachers and then breathlessly told the world that Larry “flaunted his sexuality and wielded it like a weapon.” Why? It’s hard to tell. Maybe laziness, maybe he was gullible. But to me, Setoodeh seems to be the sort of effeminate gay man that can’t wait for the opportunity to demean some gay guy one lisp more effeminate than he is. And this was his big break so he really needed something juicy, girl!

Then came the defense counsel who went on full scale public image campaign to downplay the fact that McInerney had tormented King for years, was dabbling with neo-Nazi ideology, and had publicly threatened to kill King. He clearly broadcast his intention to conduct a full-on gay panic defense, and that is what he did, both in the press and in the courtroom. He painted a picture of tiny Larry King leering and sexually assaulting the much bigger, much stronger, much more popular athlete. And, aside from the prosecutors, no one called him on this absurdity.

The newspapers jumped in playing up King’s gender play, never omitting a reference of King showing up in school in “women’s boots” and “full make-up” while avoiding the fact that the school had a dress policy that King adhered to faithfully. In fact, they seemed to forget that King showed up in school with eye make-up only and that occasionally, and that a teacher counseled him to tone it down. Catherine Saillant, the LA Times reporter covering the story, invariably goes for titillation and context is her victim. Were King alive – or were there anyone alive to represent him – he’d have a good case for libel or at least for editorial restructuring. But like it or not, homophobic snickering – especially that which includes non-gender-typical behavior – sells newspapers and without anyone to demand honesty the pattern continues.

GLAAD, the one organization that exists for the purpose of opposing defamation, had other priorities. It was busy being very very careful that gay-supportive allies are sternly lectured about using the word “fag” and nagging pro-gay businesses about advertising on Fox News (it’s biased, you see). From my search, this is what I found that GLAAD had to say about the deceptive news coverage and the snicker snicker chuckle chuckle way in which Larry was presented as though he were Charles Busch in a classic role: ” … ” I guess it just wasn’t as important as tsk tsking Glee for using the word “tranny” (maybe they should have said “chasing the boys around the school in high heels, teetering as he ran” instead; that seems to be okay).

And much of the rest of the gay community felt sorry that a 14 year old was facing a possible life sentence. So no one wanted to fan the flames. It’s a tragedy for everyone. Poor Brandon was a “victim” too. Well… at least ’til the Hitler books and Nazi propaganda turned up and then there was mostly just silence.

But the greatest betrayal has been from King’s “family”. I put family in quotations because these people have not ever behaved in a manner that reminds me of family – not even my severely dysfunctional family. Greg and Dawn King, who adopted Larry at age three claimed he Larry never bonded with them. And in November 2007 he was removed from their home and placed in a group home after he complained that Gregory King was physically abusive.

But while a living Larry wasn’t much value to the Kings, a dead one was a good source of cash. And, indeed, the Kings happily sued everyone in sight from the school to his social workers. Their theory: Larry’s flamboyance was the reason he was killed so anyone who didn’t stifle him is to blame. From all I can tell weighing Larry’s reputation against a big check was not a difficult call for them; they were named “King” and they wanted to live like it.

Yesterday Greg King was back in court in full swing: (from the Hedda Hopperish LA Times coverage by Saillant)

The father, though, reserved his harshest words for the Hueneme Elementary School District, which operates the junior high school where his 15-year-old son was shot twice in the back of the head on Feb. 12, 2008, by McInerney in front of stunned classmates.

Educators knew that his son had a history of acting provocatively for attention, yet they did nothing to stop King after he started going to E.O. Green Junior High School in women’s high-heeled boots and makeup and began aggressively flirting with boys, the father said. The middle school student had been removed from his home for unspecified reasons and was in foster care.

Instead of protecting him from his “poor impulse control,” King’s father said, “they enabled and encouraged him to become more and more provocative,” putting him in an unsafe position.

Though he holds McInerney responsible for shooting his son, King said the school’s response since the shooting has been despicable.

District leaders have made no changes in policy or procedures, saying they are unnecessary because the school’s staff followed the law in allowing Larry to augment his school uniform with women’s accessories. To date, no formal changes have been made, although the school district paid $25,000 toward a $255,000 civil lawsuit settlement for King’s family.

I’m sorry, Larry King.

Your life sucked. Your school sucked. Your parents sucked. And now you’re dead.

I wish I could say that we have learned something or grown somehow or that it wasn’t all in vain. I can’t.

But I do care. If no one else out there says it, I will. I care that a kid was picked on and had no family to turn to. I care that he was the target of another boy whose heart was dark and who delighted in torment. I care that his solution was to fight back the only way he could, by mouthing off and challenging convention. And I care that this showed tremendous character for refusing to be the victim, for refusing to cower, for refusing to let someone else’s hate fill him with shame.

And I care that one day that kid showed up in school – wearing boys shoes and no accessories or make up, incidentally – and sat down in computer class. And I care that someone being schooled in formalized hate pulled out a gun and put two bullets into the back of that kid’s head because he dared to show no shame . And I care that after that kid, after you Larry, were executed and after your lifeless body was buried, that it wasn’t enough. That adults executed your character for their own financial gain.

I won’t forget you, little effeminate boy who somehow – when those who are supposed to care and support you failed you – found the courage to be yourself and then were attacked, killed, and then maligned for it. I won’t forget you.

Larry King’s Killer Pleads Guilty In Exchange for 21 Year Prison Term

Jim Burroway

November 22nd, 2011

Brandon McInerney (left), Lawrence King (right)

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.

Prosecuters Vow To Retry Larry King’s Killer

Jim Burroway

September 2nd, 2011

Ventura County prosecutors announced today that they intend to retry Brandon McInerney after a judge declared a mistrial yesterday. Jurors were unable to decide whether to convict McInerney as an adult of first-degree or second-degree murder, or voluntary manslaughter. McInerney was fifteen when he shot fourteen-year-old Larry King at an Oxnard middle school in 2008. Legal observers believe trying McInerney as an adult made it harder to convict him. Prosecutors say they are considering whether to try him as an adult again:

“We will consider the fact that this was a very significantly split jury. We will consider everything,” said Chief Asst. Dist. Atty. Jim Ellison. “There are obviously very strong reactions on both sides, and we will consider all those in how we proceed.”

…Laurie Levenson, a Loyola law professor and former federal prosecutor, said it was possible that jurors thought the charges were too harsh.

“Jurors felt prosecutors overcharged, and they were clearly not comfortable putting the boy away for life. They probably believed the dynamic between two adolescent boys is not the same as two adults,”  Levenson said. “With a hate crime, there is usually an agenda to go after a whole group, and this case as presented was a very personal. This was a shooting but not a traditional cold-blooded killing. It had an emotional complexity, especially one associated with adolescents.”

Mistrial Declared in Larry King Murder Trial

Jim Burroway

September 1st, 2011

Brandon McInerney (left), Lawrence King (right)

A judge declared a mistrial in the case of Brandon McInerney, who was accused of killing 15-year-old Larry King at their junior high school in 2008. Judge Charles Campbell declared the mistrial after jurors were unable to reach a verdict, deadlocking at 7 to 5 in favor of finding McInerney guilty of voluntary manslaughter. To reach a verdict, the jury would have had to reach a unanimous conclusion. Furthermore, to reach a verdict of manslaughter, they would have had to reach a unanimous decision to find him not guilty of first or second degree murder. The other five voted for either second or first degree murder. The jury had been deliberating since Wednesday.

The mistrial means that prosecution can re-try the case, unless the defense and prosecution reach a plea deal. The Ventura County Star reports:

Previous offers of 25-years to life were rejected by McInerney’s lawyers because the penalty could go up to life in prison. McInerney will remain in juvenile hall while the district attorney weighs its next move.

…Jurors were able to consider first-degree, second-degree and manslaughter charges.

Conviction on a first-degree murder charge would bring a mandatory 50-year sentence, but a manslaughter sentence ranges from four to 11 years, along with a 10-year enhancement for using a gun. First-degree murder is one of premeditation; manslaughter is a homicide committed in the heat of passion.

McInerny was charged with murder, but the his lawyers raised the “gay panic defense,” and coupled it with evidence of an abusive home life. The also accused King of “sexually harassing” McInerny:

The prosecution says it was a calculated murder carried out in part because McInerney was exploring white supremacist ideology and didn’t like homosexuals. Defense attorneys painted a different picture, that of a bright but abused 14-year-old who snapped after being sexually harassed by King.

The Ventura County Star elaborates:

His lawyers put McInerney’s family members on the stand who testified of the abuse that his father, Billy, would exact on McInerney and his two half-brothers. Billy McInerney had drugs and alcohol in his system in 2009 when he fell down, hit his head and died.

Billy would hold Brandon’s brothers down and make Brandon kick them in the face, one brother testified. Billy would punch Brandon in the stomach or the nose when he thought his son was out of line, the brother said.

Billy taught his son to hate gays at a young age and would call them names when they saw them on TV or in the street.

Brandon was on a downward spiral of depression in the months leading up to the shooting, when his father would take him to houses at all hours of the night where Billy would pop pills and drink heavily.

Prosecutors provided evidence that Brandon was a “budding white supremacist who hated King because he was gay and wearing women’s boots and makeup.”

Eliza Byard, Executive Director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), responded to the mistrial:

“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.”

Gay Panic Law on trial

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2011

Brandon McInerney and defense attorney Scott Wippert (Los Angeles Times; Nick Ut, AP Photo)

The witnesses have spoken and the evidence has been heard in the murder trial of Brandon McInerney. And there is no dispute over most of the facts.

Everyone agrees that McInerney shot Lawrence King during computer class three years ago. And it is well established that they had long feuded, starting when McInerney and his friends tormented King and continuing through Kings eventual taunting of McInerney by flirting with him. And both were aware that their behavior was unwelcomed by the other.

And it has also been shown that Lawrence King had recently announced that he was gay and had began experimenting with gender roles and expression. Lawrence had on some occasions worn makeup and boots designed and marketed to women. And the prosecution and the defense both agree – though in different ways and with different purpose – that when Brandon McInernery killed Lawrence King it was due to a large degree because King was gay.

The only dispute in this case is over what that means.

The prosecution argued that McInerney was a white supremest who shot King because he hated gay people. Her argument rests on evidence such as hundreds of white supremacy and Nazi images scrawled in McInerney’s books, on his shoes and his backpacks, 154 pages of Hitler speeches and books on the Nazi youth, his involvement in a street gang, and his mentoring by a local white supremest with whom he stayed the night before the murder. And because his motivation for actually killing King was based in hatred for homosexuals, she argues that hate crime provisions justify an increased sentence.

The defense attorney has a different take on the matter. His effort has been dedicated to painting King as a dirty nasty fag who couldn’t keep off of a strong young straight man and who provoked McInerney until he reacted in the heat of the moment. I mean, who wouldn’t be disgusted and horrified to have some mincing make-up wearing little queen flirt with you and embarrass you and, well, okay maybe it was a rash decision to shoot him, but who wouldn’t do the same?

This is called the Gay Panic defense. And while it is immoral, vile, and harmful to society, defense attorneys continue to use it whenever they can. For one reason. (LATimes)

Gay panic defenses are used because they often work, said Cynthia Lee, a law professor who wrote a 2008 UC Berkeley Law School Review article on the topic. In February 2006, a Kentucky man successfully won a lighter sentence after using a gay panic argument, according to a report by Equality California.

In the same year, a Fresno man who stabbed a transgender person 20 times agreed and was permitted to plead guilty to a reduced crime that brought a four-year sentence. The Fresno district attorney reportedly cited the difficulty of overcoming a panic strategy as a reason for offering the plea deal.

“There is no question that when murder defendants argue gay panic, they seek to tap into deep-seated biases against and stereotypes about gay men as deviant sexual predators who pose a threat to innocent young heterosexual males,” Lee wrote in the law review article.

But there is one change to the equation. In September 2006, the California State Legislature passed, and Governor Schwarzenegger signed, the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act. This legislation does not ban or in any other way infringe on the defense’s right to say whatever he liked. But it does allow a prosecutor to have the judge read a statement reminding the jury that everyone deserves the same promise of justice and that they should resist the temptation to base their decision on prejudice:

Do not let bias, sympathy, prejudice, or public opinion influence your decision. Bias includes bias against the victim or victims based upon his or her disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

The prosecutor is invoking her Gay Panic clause and this will be the first case in which a judge cautions a jury not to use anti-gay bias.

And so it is not really McInerney that is on trial here. His guilt was evident from the beginning. Rather, this trial is about gay panic and whether a blatant appeal to anti-gay bigotry will influence a jury, even after they have been instructed by the judge not to not let it do so.

Lawrence King murder trial – day two

Timothy Kincaid

July 6th, 2011

The testimony has begun and, frankly, I’m glad I’m not there. So far there have been several students who were but around 14 at the time and who remain horrified and shaken by the event. But while it must be difficult having to relive the events of three years ago, these are the witnesses. They were there when Brandon McInerney and his friends spent months tormenting Lawrence King; they were there when King finally fought back using flirting as his defense; and they were just feet from the two when McInerney put two bullets into the back of King’s head.

Today students testified about being present at the shootings and one boy spoke about hearing McInerney talk about plans to attack King. (LATimes)

Wearing a pullover sweater and a black plastic rosary around his neck, Cristian, 17, said he and McInerney had a physical education class together and that McInerney talked about King to a group of boys on the day before the February 2008 shooting.

“He said he was going to get some guys together and rush him and shank him,” Cristian said in court, adding that McInerney showed no emotion when he made the statement.

Cristian testified that he saw King occasionally wearing makeup, jewelry and high heels with his public school uniform. When that happened, some students would taunt him with homosexual slurs, Cristian said.

When asked by defense attorney Scott Wippert if he ever saw King “chasing boys around,” Cristian answered no.

Today also revealed a detail that is shocking and may suggest that the day ended with less tragedy than it might have. (Star)

The second witness this morning was retired Oxnard detective Joe Chase, an investigator in the case. He testified about the crime scene, including about finding the .22-caliber revolver used in the slaying.

The gun was cocked when police found it, meaning it was ready to fire a third shot. There were four live bullets remaining in the gun.

During cross-examination, Wippert asked Chase if it was possible that when the gun was dropped, it could have fallen on the hammer, cocking the weapon.

“Anything is possible, but I would say no,” he said. He later said the weapon was jammed and likely could not have fired a third shot.

McInerney trial day one

Timothy Kincaid

July 5th, 2011

The LA Times coverage of the first day of trial is significantly better than the article of this morning. Catherine Saillant attributed the positions of the prosecutor and the defense and only made statement of fact on such matters are are undisputed.

Prosecution is laying out the case that the ongoing fued between Lawrence King and his killer, Brandon McInerney, escalated in part by King’s growing self-confidence.

King was bullied by McInerney and other boys at the school, Deputy Dist. Atty. Maeve Fox said in her opening statement in the trial, which is being conducted at a courthouse in Chatsworth. But shortly before his death, King had begun wearing high heels, makeup and earrings to school and had become more confident in himself, she said.

“Larry King for the first time in his life wasn’t taking it anymore,” Fox said. “And he started to give people what I prefer to call the proverbial chin. Only it was more profane. The proverbial ‘f … you.’”

She will also present evidence that King’s murder was premeditated.

CNN provides additional details of the opening statements:

After the first shot, King fell to the ground, and McInerney allegedly stood over him and shot again, Frawley said. [I doubt that Frawley said “allegedly”]

“It was a coup de grace shot,” Frawley said of the second shot.

“There were no words exchanged. He just pulled out the gun and did it,” Frawley told CNN Tuesday. “The victim didn’t even see it coming.”

Both shots were at point-blank range, Frawley said.

The defense will, as expected, use gay panic to accuse King of being responsible for his own death. McInerney was a helpless and humiliated victim of the sinister homosexual (cue spooky music and weird lighting).

McInerney’s lawyer, Scott Wippert, argued that King — and not his client — was the aggressor. He said King targeted McInerney for sexual harassment, making flirtatious remarks, and had humiliated him.

LA Times joins “gay panic” smear of Lawrence King

Timothy Kincaid

July 5th, 2011

Brian McInerney (left), Lawrence King (right)

From the beginning, reporters covering the murder of Lawrence King have had difficulty in finding the right tone and delivery. Few stories are more challenging than that of a 14 year old boy shooting his schoolmate in the back of the head at point blank range in the middle of his classroom.

Two young lives have been destroyed. Lawrence King is dead, and Brandon McInerney will spend much of his life behind bars. And reporters have sought to make that point rather than just tell the tale of a murderer and his victim. Sadly, this effort has evolved in some media from telling both stories to a cover-up of the facts and a retelling in which King was the culprit and McInerney an innocent who defended himself in the only way he knew how.

I will concede that it is difficult for a reporter to tell the victim’s side of the story. While defense lawyers invariable seek to influence public opinion (and a jury pool) with press conferences full of alternative possibilities, prosecutors are generally more circumspect. And while Ventura County senior deputy district attorney Maeve Fox did finally release information about McInerney to counter the defense’s fairy tale, it is not her job to defend King’s reputation.

That role is often filled by family of the victim. But Lawrence King’s adoptive parents were estranged and more interested in trying to find a way to make a buck off of King’s murder. They had no interest in defending the reputation of the weird kid who had “never bonded with them” and whom had been shipped off to a youth facility. Which leaves no one – no one at all – speaking for Lawrence.

But that is no excuse for shoddy journalism, deceptive reporting, and homophobic insinuation.

Perhaps the worst example was the hit piece on Lawrence King penned by Ramin Setoodah, a celebrity interviewer, for Newsweek. Setoodeh’s piece was the first to characterizate King as a bully and sexual aggressor who tormented Brandon McInerney. Parroting McInerney’s attorneys, Setoodeh laid out the gay panic defense, tossing in stereotypes and insinuations and “a lesbian vice principal with a political agenda.”

But while Newsweek’s article was unforgivable, one expects that hard news media will avoid such tactics. So it is even more disturbing to see the LA Times join in on the character assassination of Lawrence King.

But today’s article by Catherine Saillant about the start of the trial does just that. It seeks to minimize Brandon McInerney’s crime by diminishing the value of the life of his victim. Saillant does not see one child shooting another in the back of the head in his classroom but rather a sexual abuse victim acting in self defense against a sexual aggressor, a tormentor, a homosexual menace.

I don’t claim that Saillant has an anti-gay bias. Her use of the somewhat ominous phrase “young homosexuals on school campuses” instead of “gay youth” may be accidental or out of ignorance. For all I know, she is an ardent supporter of equality.

But her article is a textbook example of journalistic gay panic: the presumption that heterosexuals are entitled to live a life free of gay people, and that a gay person acknowledging their own existence is such a threat to heterosexuals that it justifies murder (or, at least, is a mitigating circumstance).

In the presumptions of journalistic gay panic, it is relevant to their murder whether a child was or was not effeminate or sometimes wore “women’s accessories”. In the presumptions of journalistic gay panic, the flirtations of a girl to a boy are very very different from the flirtations of a boy to a boy.

Take this paragraph from the article:

Fellow students say the two had clashed for days over King’s expressing his attraction to McInerney. King, who was living in a children’s shelter because of problems at home, had recently gone to school wearing eye makeup and women’s accessories.

The first sentence is a false presentation of the issue. “Fellow students” may have said just about anything, but based on the fuller coverage we know that King had been picked on by McInerny for a long time, long before the “flirting” began, and this eventually became his way of fighting back. But Saillant presents this as though it was out of the blue. She sets up King as the unprovoked aggressor.

And this cannot be chalked up to a lack of information. In a February 2009 Times article written by Saillant herself:

“Witnesses said King was usually not the aggressor. But after months of teasing by McInerney and other male students who called him “faggot,” he had began to retort, according to prosecutors.”

But it is in the second sentence that Saillant steps from being a reporter of a one-sided version of the story to active manipulator. Here she introduces an irrelevant comment to tie two separate ideas together. She’s reporting (not repeating what “fellow students” say) that King went to school in makeup. And – without any reason to mention it – she also says he was “living in a children’s shelter because of problems at home.”

Tying the two unrelated comments into a single sentence, Saillant has achieved the presentation of King who was so out of control with his crazy cross-dressing that he couldn’t even get along with his parents.

But the worst was just previous:

…provoked by King’s repeated sexual advances.

Screech… slam on the brakes.

Ask yourself – outside of this case, just in conversation – when you hear the term “repeated sexual advances”, what do you think of? Is is, oh say, “Will you be my valentine?”

Or is it perhaps an advance that is sexual in nature and repeated?

And again, this is not unfamiliar territory to Saillant. From that 2009 article:

In her statement of facts, Fox contends that King and McInerney had an acrimonious relationship for months prior to the shooting. They sparred with “typical 8th grade, back-and-forth insults; some sexual, some not,” she wrote.

But today, those “back and forth insults, some sexual, some not,” have become one-way “repeated sexual advances”. If Saillant is going to just parrot the accusations of McInerney’s defense, she has an obligation to inform that King’s “advances” consisted of flirting, at most, and did not consist of acts of adult sexual aggression. On the other hand, King’s “death” consisted of death.

This is not journalistic balance. This is advocacy for the defense’s gay panic strategy.

And look at how McInerney is discussed:

The defense could face a challenge in portraying McInerney as a naive youth. At the time of the shooting, he looked young and sweet-faced. In court recently, the defendant was a tall, lanky young man dressed in crisp Oxford shirts and khaki pants.

Salliant doesn’t talk about the difficulty of his defense having to deal with Nazi materials, racist symbols, or McInerney’s long history of terrorizing King. No, no, it’s his current age that is a problem.

I don’t know Saillant’s motivations. It may be that she is among those who think 14 is too young to be tried for murder. Maybe she wants to look at “all the circumstances” and see McInerney as “a victim too”. Perhaps wants to “present both sides”.

And the easiest way to do that – as McInerney is a pretty nasty neo-Nazi with white supremacist connections who ran in a pack of bullies – is to paint King as some sort of monster, a horrifying gay drag queen monster – worse even than McInerney. Besides, who is going to complain?

Generally character assassination of the victim is left to the defense team. But it seems to me that Saillant, has joined the cause.

Now, there is a legitimate case to be made that McInerney was too young and immature to be fully cognizant of the consequences of his actions. But it is unethical and immoral to take the shortcut of bashing King to exonerate McInerney.

Lawrence King Trial Set to Begin Today

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2011

Brandon McInerney (left), Lawrence King (right)

It’s been three years since Brandon McInerney walked into an Oxnard classroom, pulled a .22-caliber handgun out of his backpack and shot Lawrence King point blank in the head. From the very beginning, McInerney’s lawyer has trotted out the “gay panic” defense, saying that McInerney was furious that King was flirting with him. Today, McInerney’s trial is set to begin finally, and the defense will make “gay panic” the centerpiece of their case:

McInerney’s lawyers, Scott Wippert and Robyn Bramson, say their client doesn’t deny the killing. But they argue it was voluntary manslaughter because the adolescent was provoked by King’s repeated sexual advances.

Fellow students say the two had clashed for days over King’s expressing his attraction to McInerney. King, who was living in a children’s shelter because of problems at home, had recently gone to school wearing eye makeup and women’s accessories.

McInerney was humiliated by King’s advances, his attorneys said. He came from a violent home and decided to end his misery in a way that made sense to him — with a gun. He shot King “in the heat of passion caused by the intense emotional state between these two boys at school,” Bramson said last week outside the courthouse, where jury selection was underway.

McInerney is being tried for murder with a hate crime enhancement. His defense team argue that McInerney’s age (he was fourteen at the time of the murder) should be a factor:

The defense will stress McInerney’s age at the time of the crime, and may summon a psychologist to talk about the maturity and critical-thinking abilities of a 14-year-old. In essence, they will argue that McInerney didn’t have the maturity to deal with King’s schoolyard taunts.

“Age will explain his behavior and his response,” Wippert said. “How a 14-year-old reacts is different than how an older person would react.”

Brandon McInerney’s trial begins

Timothy Kincaid

July 14th, 2010

Brandon McInerneyToday the judge in the trial of Brandon McInerney refused to give defense attorneys an additional delay. (VC Star)

Judge Charles Campbell turned down the request from McInerney attorneys who were seeking more time so they can interview witnesses for the high-profile school shooting case.

McInerney, 16, is facing murder and other charges in connection with the February 2008 fatal shooting of classmate Larry King, 15, in a class at E.O. Green School in Oxnard.

Scott Wippert, McInerney’s attorney had already received a delay from May 14th in order to interview witnesses.

McInerney, who owned neo-Nazi and white supremacist materials, is accused of killing King because of King’s sexuality. Larry, a young gay boy (or perhaps, transgender), had been tormented for months by McInerney and his friends. When King finally responded making sexual taunts to McInerney, this appears to be motivation for McInerney to murder Larry King.

Which he did in February 2008, in class, with two shots to the back of the head.

McInerney Can Be Tried as Adult

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2009

Today a judge decided that Brandon McInerney can be held to trial and special circumstances apply, allowing him to tried as an adult for the first degree murder of Larry King. (Ventura Star)

The judge noted that McInerney didn’t confront King in the hallway or on the playground, but waited for class to begin before shooting him.

The judge described the shooting as “the cold-blooded precision of an executioner.” He said it was premeditated, and he also found true the special circumstance that McInerney was lying in wait.

Prosecutors have yet to determine whether they will file the special circumstance against the teen. Such a step would not lengthen the juvenile’s sentence, but it would keep the case out of the juvenile court.

Testimony to date has included evidence of pre-medititation, neo-Nazi association, and cold-blooded enactment of the crime. If convicted, McInerney may be sentenced up to 53 years to life in prison. Prosecutors have offered him a plea deal of 25 years to life.

The defense continues to use “gay panic” as their defense, more or less implying that King deserved what he got. (Ventura Star)

Defense lawyers are trying to portray King as a troubled boy and a sexual aggressor who would taunt and tease boys with flirtatious remarks and gestures such as blowing kisses at them.

They have argued in court that King was also a schoolyard bully toward McInerney and other boys. An autopsy showed that King was small in stature, standing 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 111 pounds, according to testimony on Monday.

Lawrence King’s Killer Motivated By Neo-Nazi Beliefs

Jim Burroway

July 22nd, 2009

On the second day of preliminary hearings in Ventura County (California) Superior Court, a Simi Valley detective and gang specialist testified that Brandon McInerney was at least partly motivated by neo-Nazi beliefs when he gunned down 15-year-old Lawrence King in an eight grade classroom. Detective Dan Swanson took the stand and offered this testimony yesterday:

A search of McInerney’s bedroom and backpack yielded the notebook, seven of Hitler’s speeches translated into English and a book about SS troopers who had been former members of the Hitler Youth. The collection reflected an interest in the Nazis that was far more profound than the World War II book report McInerney had been assigned, the investigator testified.

Swanson said the teenager’s family was friendly with a white supremacist in Oxnard’s Silver Strand area. The man told Swanson that he and his girlfriend allowed McInerney to sleep in their apartment a night or two before the shooting.

McInerney’s lawyers continue to push the “gay panic” defense, charging McInerney “cracked” when King blew kisses at him and declared his love.

On the first day of preliminary hearings, Oxnard police Sgt. Kevin Baysinger testified that McInerney bragged to fellow classmates that he had guns at home if he ever wanted to kill someone. “Brandon said if he ever wanted to kill anybody, his dad had a bunch of guns and he had the capability,” Baysinger told the court.

King’s Killer Offered Plea Deal

Timothy Kincaid

July 10th, 2009

Brandon McInerneyOn February 12, 2008, Brandon McInerney walked into his eighth grade classroom and put two bullets in the back of classmate Larry King’s head. His reason? Because Larry King dared to flirt with him.

Ever since that date, his defense has sought every opportunity to portray McInerney as the victim and King as the aggressor. Brandon was just a poor tormented kid who couldn’t take it any more. Newsweek contributed by running a hit-piece on Larry King. He has even been helped by King’s previous guardians who think that by portraying Larry as a threat to all that is heterosexual, they can get money from those who were actually caring for him.

But District Attorney Maeve Fox is refusing to allow Brandon McInerney’s attorneys to portray him as an innocent or to trash the name of Lawrence King and seek to blame him for his own murder.

After the Newsweek article ran portraying McInerney as basically a good kid who “was smart” but “had his share of troubles” (unlike King whom they portrayed as a “flamboyant” disturbance who “flaunted his sexuality and wielded it like a weapon”), Fox released information that revealed an entirely different Brandon McInerney than that portrayed by his attorneys and parroted by an inexperienced and gullible journalist who was more concerned about “the story” than the truth.

  • Investigators seized white supremacist materials, including doodlings of Nazi swastikas, from the bedroom of Brandon McInerney.
  • McInerney looked for others to join in a gang beating of King in the days before the shooting. Unable to find others interested he decided to kill King.
  • McInerney was familiar with the gun with which he killed King, having used it for target practice.
  • It wasn’t until King had suffered months of being called “faggot” by McInerney and others that he began to retort by making sexual taunts to McInerney.
  • Other students heard McInerney threaten to shoot King in the days before he did so.
  • In addition to the skinhead and neo-Nazi materials, McInerney also had a training video called “Shooting in Realistic Environments”.

Fox has been harshly criticized for trying McInerney as an adult. With no one to speak for Lawrence King, McInerney’s supporters painted her as bloodthirsty and overly harsh. Even some gay groups and liberal organizations joined the chorus, saying that McInerney was being scapegoated and that he should not be tried as an adult. They felt that a possible 50 year sentence was just too much, considering his age (some of this concern has dissipated as more about McInerney’s character has been revealed).

Finally McInerney’s defense has gotten under Fox’s skin again. On Wednesday defense attorney Robyn Bramson accused prosecutors of being vindictive. They should have known better. Fox released information which put exposed their lack of forthrightness. She had offered McInerney a plea deal.

The district attorney will allow 15-year-old murder suspect Brandon McInerney to plead guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for a lighter sentence, officials announced publicly today.

“It would bring (the sentence) down, from a maximum of 53 years to life, to 25 years to life,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Maeve Fox, who is prosecuting this case.

McInerney’s Father Found Dead

Timothy Kincaid

March 18th, 2009

William McInerney, father of teen-murderer Brandon McInerney, was found dead today. While there was no indication of foul play, I suspect that there may not have been natural causes.

The father of a 15-year-old boy accused of killing a gay classmate was found dead at his home on Wednesday, just hours before his son was expected to appear at a court hearing, authorities said.

In addition to Brandon’s toubles, William McInerney was undergoing legal problems of his own.

The elder McInerney was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on felony charges he threatened to kill his sister during a domestic dispute last month.

The sister, Maura McInerney, testified that he became enraged and threatened her after she was unable to wake him up for a scheduled visit with his jailed son.

UPDATE:

The coroner has ruled the death an accident.

The father of 15-year-old murder defendant Brandon McInerney was found dead this morning at his home in Silver Strand after what appeared to be an accidental fall.

William McInerney, 45, died from blunt-force head injury, said Dr. Janice Frank, the Ventura County assistant medical examiner who conducted an autopsy of the body.

Frank said a contributing cause of death was alcoholism. McInerney had a history of alcohol abuse, she said, declining to elaborate.

Larry King’s Caretakers Seek to Profit from his Murder

Timothy Kincaid

February 14th, 2009

Lawrence King was adopted at age three by Gregory and Dawn King. According to the Kings, he never bonded with them. In November 2007 he was removed from their home and placed in a group home after he complained that Gregory King was physically abusive.

But none of that is stopping the Kings from seeking to be paid for their loss. And they are not above trashing Larry in order to get some cash.

To celebrate the one year anniversary of Larry’s death, Gregory and Dawn king have filed a wrongful death lawsuit assigning the blame for Larry’s murder on Larry himself and faulting everyone in sight. (SJ Merc)

The 18-page lawsuit filed by King’s parents and brother names nearly two dozen defendants. It claims that everyone from King’s teacher to his social worker failed to urge the effeminate teen to tone down flamboyant behavior. The suit also claims they failed to heed McInerney’s alleged threat to kill King a day before the shooting.

In addition to his teacher and principal, the suit names McInerney and his parents; the nonprofit Casa Pacifica, a shelter for troubled children where King had been living; counselors; a county social worker, and the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance.

The school and shelter knew that King’s behavior was “sexually assertive” and threatening but failed to take action, the suit contends.

The shelter gave him “cross-dressing clothes and makeup and women’s boots,” and the Rainbow Alliance encouraged King to make sexual advances on McInerney, the suit claims.

While the Kings can sue anyone they think has cash for wrongful death in every state in the Union, in Utah gay people don’t have the right to sue anyone at all for the loss of their devoted and much loved and cared-for partner.

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