Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Fate of Larry King’s Teen Murderer Goes to Jury in California

Brandon McInerney (L), and Lawrence Fobes "Larry" King, (R)

Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California – After prosecution’s closing statement yesterday, and defense’s closing statement today, the trial of teen Brandon McInerney goes to the jury.  Long weeks of hard-fought testimony, evidence and counter-evidence have come down to the judgment of twelve citizens over a deadly serious question: Is the victim of a homicide responsible for his own death, or not?  McInerney’s defense team, led by Scott Wippert, has tried mightily to paint 15-year-old Larry King as the aggressor in his own slaying, justifying their client, the confessed killer, somehow for shooting his classmate twice in the head in broad daylight. Bridling at any suggestion by the prosecution that he and his team were using a version of the discredited “gay panic defense,” in which the psychic trauma of encountering perceived harassment by a gay person “ignites” a passion to kill, Wippert nonetheless has consistently used that logic to paint King as a “sexual aggressor” who made all the boys at E.O. Green Middle School in Oxnard feel unsafe.  According to The Advocate, King’s manner of effeminate dress and language “harassed” the boys (most especially his client), and disrupted school life to the point that, as Wippert put it to the jury, “The [E.O. Green] boys didn’t feel safe in the school,” because of the 5-foot 4-inch, 125-pound King.

Prosecutor Maeve Fox sought to counter such an argument, calling the strategy of the defense an appeal to anti-gay sentiments and oppressive anti-feminine stereotypes.  “It’s an attempt to reach somewhere deep down,” she said in her rebuttal to the jury. “To a dark place.”  Fox showed a photo of King taken just days before his execution-style murder, smiling as he held up a green dress given him by his teacher, Dawn Boldrin.  According to The Advocate, King was wearing a school uniform at the time of the picture, not women’s clothing, and had on unobtrusive makeup. Fox asked the jury as she held up the picture, “This is the guy that you are being asked to believe was a sexual predator who tortured the defendant into a state of despair.This [person] is so threatening to the average male psyche of 14 or 44 or 84?”  She reminded the jury that if they bring in a verdict of manslaughter, they would be ignoring the testimony of students who said McInerney told them days before the killing that he was going to end King’s life, and further, the expert psychiatric report in which McInerney said he did not even consider his victim a human being. A manslaughter verdict would mean the jury believed that any average person would have acted in the same way McInerney did on the day he took his teenage classmate’s life.  But premeditation of the sort the defendant exhibited by planning and waiting until first period class was well underway before he pulled out his pistol and shot King in the back of the head dictates a first-degree murder sentence.

Wippert reported referred to the tender age of his client 39 times in his closing statement to the jury.  He contended that King’s quip to McInerney the day before he killed King, “What’s up, baby?”, was “the straw that popped the balloon,” and pushed McInerney to shoot him.  Fox rebutted that King was just giving back something of the stress that he had experienced from McInerney and his clique as they bullied him for being different.

But would an average person take such umbrage at affectations and effeminate ways, even if aimed at such a person, that he would plan and shoot an unarmed person in cold blood?  Prosecutor Fox said no.  McInerney wasn’t acting as an average person.  He was acting out his white supremacist schooling to kill a sub human, as reported by the Associated Press.  He believed, Fox contended, that killing King was doing everyone a favor, and that he would be congratulated for doing it.

The jury will decide soon.  No case of a hate crime killing against a gay person has drawn more attention since the murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. If the jury brings in a verdict of manslaughter, McInerney, who is now 17, may be eligible for release before he is forty.  If they decide for first-degree murder, he may not see freedom before he is 57.

August 26, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, California, Character assassination, gay bashing, gay panic defense, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Larry King’s Teen Murderer Refuses to Testify in His Own Defense

Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California – Seventeen-year-old Brandon McInerney was not put on the stand by his defense team on Monday, the last day of testimony for the defense, in the closely watched trial of straight-on-gay teen murder.  The Los Angeles Times reports that his chief attorney, Scott Wippert, told the court that McInerney declined to take the stand. Now that the defense has rested, closing arguments are expected to commence immediately.  The facts of the case are not in dispute: McInerney, 14 at the time of the February 2008 homicide, killed his fellow eighth grade student, Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King, a gay, bi-racial 15-year-old, in their first period computer class at E.O. Green Middle School in Oxnard.  McInerney’s defense hinges on a version of the discredited “gay panic” defense that has long been employed by defendants in cases of anti-gay murder.  His defense team is gambling that they can create sympathy for McInerney by claiming he was in a severe “dissociative state” because of King’s gay mannerisms, dress, and affectation–that McInerney interpreted King’s speech, dress, and acts as “sexual harassment,” and killed him because of it.  A psychologist for the defense testified that McInerney “snapped” at the time of the shooting, according to ABC News 7. When employed to justify the violence perpetrated by mature adults, the gay panic defense seeks to play on the latent fears of jury members to cloud the verdict they would otherwise render, or, barring that, to soften the punishment for the crime because of “mitigating circumstances” and “states of mind.”

The prosecution built its case on testimony and physical evidence of skin-head, Neo-Nazi and white supremacist loyalties McInerney held.  The motive for McInerney’s deadly crime, the prosecution contends, was deep-seated hostility toward gays and transgender people.  Prosecutor Maeve Fox pointed repeatedly to the premeditation it took the defendant to plan the slaying, conceal the murder weapon, restrain his attack until first period class was in session, and then shoot his victim not once but twice in the back of the head, execution-style.  McInerney announced his intention to kill King well ahead of the deed, according to testimony rendered in court.  Evidence of premeditation prior to the trial in large part caused a judge to rule that McInerney would be tried under California criminal law as an adult, even given his youth.

If the defense succeeded in convincing the jury that young Larry King was responsible for his own murder at the hands of an innocent, straight boy who snapped under the strain of “unwanted sexual advances,” then the gay panic defense will have a new lease on life in courtrooms throughout the United States where perpetrators will make the argument that their gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender victims in some sense “made them do it.”  If, on the other hand, the prosecution turns aside this latest version of the gay panic defense, and convinces the jury that a murdered boy cannot be guilty of his own death, then the venerable and disreputable gay panic defense will be dealt a severe blow in American juris prudence.

August 23, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, California, Character assassination, death threats, gay bashing, gay men, gay panic defense, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Police Refusing to Report Anti-Lesbian Hate Crime Could Lose Their Jobs

Washington, D.C. – When several Metropolitan Police refused to report a brutal attack against five lesbians in the District of Columbia, they had no idea how big a mistake they were making, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch.  Brushing off the attack by two males who shouted anti-lesbian epithets as they assaulted the women, the police even threatened to arrest the victims because “they didn’t know how to act.”  Now, these officers are under investigation themselves. The investigation could take as long as four months. They could face suspension, punishment, and even termination of their jobs with loss of pension benefits.  Four police cruisers with seven officers responded to a 911 emergency call outside the Columbia Heights Metro station in the early morning hours of July 30.  Two men had beaten their lesbian victims, and a third man accompanying the assailants stood by capturing video of assault on his cell phone. When the lesbians reported the attack to the police, the officers dismissed the violence.  Though the police had restrained one of the assailants, they just let him go. Hatewatch has learned that the mother of one of the victims called the Metro Police to complain about the officers’ behavior.  Then, on August 1, the D.C. LGBT liaison unit filed a report on the incident as a hate crime.

Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), a local LGBTQ activist group, met with D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier to demand more rigorous protection of the queer community in Washington.  The chief seemed inclined to act on the concerns of the group, according to GLOV spokesperson, A.J. Singletary.  D.C. gays, lesbians, and transgender persons, especially those from racial/ethnic minority groups, have suffered an increasing number of violent attacks in recent years, most notably the murders of four transgender women of color, two of them teenagers.

The once strong and effective gay and lesbian liaison unit of the Metro Police Department was decimated by budgetary cuts three years ago.  Its officers were distributed among police units throughout the city, rather than working together as a discreet group.  Training in LGBTQ sensitivity for the police has been severely diminished, as well, according to Singletary.  The anecdotal result has been an increase of attacks on queer folk, and many reported incidents where police have not even bothered to file hate crime reports when they have occurred. GLOV has asked Chief Lanier to beef up the number and quality of LGBT officers on the force, and to reinstate rigorous LGBTQ training for all members of the Metropolitan Police.  Singletary reports that this latest act of neglect has spurred Chief Lanier to take charges against the police seriously, and to make some of the changes activists in the LGBTQ community are asking for.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has published study results showing that the LGBTQ community is beset by more violence, especially of an extreme nature, than any other community of persons in the United States. Compared to its rank in the population at large, according to the study, an LGBTQ person is 8.3 times more likely to be the victim of a violent hate crime than others in this country.

August 11, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bisexual persons, Blame the victim, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, Gays and Lesbian Opposing Violence, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Metropolitan Police (D.C.), Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Southern Poverty Law Center, transgender persons, transphobia, Washington, D.C., women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Police Refusing to Report Anti-Lesbian Hate Crime Could Lose Their Jobs

Five D.C. Lesbians Attacked, But Police Refuse to File Report

Washington, D.C. – When five D.C. lesbians were attacked outside the Columbia Heights Metro Station, they thought they could count on the police to protect them.  They were wrong.  On July 30, according to the Washington Blade, five lesbians were brutally assaulted at 3 a.m. outside the metro stop by two men who attacked them while shouting expletives because of their perceived sexual orientation. A third man accompanying the attackers used a cell phone to record the assault.  Yazzmen Morse, 21, who was pummeled in the face by the attackers, told the Blade that her assailants were yelling “dykes,” “bitches,” and other slurs at her and her companions.  A bystander placed a 911 emergency call to report the attack, and four police cruisers from the Third District Police Department station with “six or seven” officers responded.  The women were hurt, scared, and frantic to have the Metro police protect them and arrest their attackers.  Instead, the officers refused even to take a report, chiding the lesbians for “not knowing how to act,” and released the one assailant they had apprehended and restrained at the scene of the crime.  365 Gay reports Morse saying of the police,  “They let him go. And then they said they didn’t want to hear our stories.” Morse said she was horrified and angered that the police simply released her attacker, who smiled and taunted his lesbian victims as he walked away.  “He walked across the street laughing,” Morse told the Blade. “And I will never forget his face – he was just smiling. And we are five people who are in tears and he is just laughing at us.”  The second suspect had already fled the scene when the police arrived.  Their companion who took video of the assault continued to record even after the police arrived.  The video confiscated showed the attackers enjoying the mayhem they inflicted on the lesbians.

Responding to the charge that the lesbians “didn’t know how to act,” one of the victims who wishes to remain anonymous said to the Blade, “[The police] were telling us if you guys don’t calm down we’re going to lock you guys up. One officer said I’m not talking to you because you guys don’t know how to act,” she said. “And yes, we were panicking. Yes, we were crying. Yes, we were going off. But the fact is these men had just hit us.”  The anonymous victim also said the police offered no reason why they were not going to make a report of the assault.

D.C. LGBTQ activists and organizations unleashed a storm of protest over the actions of the Metropolitan Police.  In response, officials of the Department have assured the community that arrests will be forthcoming, and that as many as seven police officers may be disciplined (even terminated) because of their behavior.  The attack is now being classified as an anti-LGBT hate crime. The District has suffered a rash of attacks against lesbians and transgender women of color in recent months.  The last reported homicide of a transwoman of color took place just two week prior to the attack outside the Columbia Heights Metro Station.

August 8, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, Washington, D.C., women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Families/Friends at Each Other’s Throats During Trial of Larry King’s Alleged Murderer

Brandon McInerney (left), and Lawrence Fobes "Larry" King (right)

Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California – The Advocate and the Los Angeles Times report that the trial of Brandon McInerney erupted in tears and rage as the courtroom proceedings entered their fourth week. Dawn Boldrin, former teacher of both boys, showed pictures she took of the lime green strapless chiffon dress she presented to 15-year-old Larry King.  Ms. Boldrin, members of McInerney’s family,  and many in the courtroom sobbed and shed tears as they saw the broad smile on King’s face as he held up the dress.  Shortly after Larry King received the dress, just a matter of days, in fact, his classmate Brandon McInerney allegedly shot King to death execution-style in full view of dozens of other students and Ms. Boldrin, their first period teacher. The display of emotion proved too much for King’s parents.  As the L.A. Times reports: “An infuriated Greg King, father of Larry King, stomped out of the courtroom. He returned a short while later and rounded up the entire King family to leave the courthouse for the day. As the group walked past Boldrin’s daughter and another relative, Larry’s mother, Dawn King, whispered an expletive to them.”  On Friday morning, the presiding judge, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell, ruled that King’s mother would not be permitted to attend the trial any further because of her profane outburst the previous day.  Later, outside the courtroom, King’s father told reporters that he became enraged at the emotional display on Boldrin’s part because he believed her to be a hypocrite, shedding what he termed “crocodile tears.”  The Advocate quotes King as saying, “My son is dead and they’re crying?  That’s the woman (referring to Boldrin) who gave him a dress after complaining that he shouldn’t be coming to school in makeup and boots!”  By accentuating Larry King’s overt gender-outlaw behavior, and hyping the image of the dress, McInerney’s defense team is seeking to shift blame from their client to the dead gay student, suggesting that his alleged aggressive, sexualized overtures toward McInerney drove him to violence.  In order to counter this subtle form of the outworn “gay panic defense,” the prosecution has portrayed the defendant as a violence-prone neophyte white supremacist who harbored deep anti-gay and anti-transgender biases.  McInerney is being tried in the Chatsworth courthouse as an adult, even though he was 14 at the time of the murder.  If he is convicted of the slaying, McInerney, now 17, could face 53 years to life in prison.

August 1, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bullying in schools, California, Character assassination, Execution, gay bashing, gay panic defense, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings, Slurs and epithets, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Families/Friends at Each Other’s Throats During Trial of Larry King’s Alleged Murderer


%d bloggers like this: