Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

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

  1. So, if the gay panic defense works, does that mean that all women who are hit on by men can now shoot them?

    Comment by Brenda Allen | August 23, 2011

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