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Posts for September, 2011

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.”

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.

Mormon Childhood Neighbor Update

Daniel Gonzales

October 27th, 2008

Earlier in the week I’d posted about mailing a two sentence note to my Mormon neighbor at my childhood home. I have an update for y’all — Yesterday I got word from my mother that her yard sign has come down (we hope it was voluntary and not simply a result of vandalism).

Early 20th Century Trangender

Timothy Kincaid

March 4th, 2008

hicks.jpgColleen Cason in the Ventura County Star tells the story of Lucy Hicks, a local who lived as a woman though born male.

Did he suspect she was a man, I asked him. It didn’t matter, he told me. “Lucy was just Lucy,” he said. She always greeted him with a cheery “Hello, there, young man” when he delivered her weekly order from the butcher shop to her kitchen.

Lucy stood up for her gender identity long before the notion of transgendered persons became commonly known.

Lucy challenged the authority of physicians who insisted that she was male. “I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman,” Anderson told reporters in the midst of her perjury trial. “I have lived, dressed, acted just what I am, a woman.”

The Sheldon Institute also has a collection of articles from the Star