Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Judge in Larry King Murder Case Declares Mistrial: Jury Hung

No Justice Yet for Hate Murder Victim Larry King

Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California – In breaking news, the judge in the trial of teen Brandon McInerney for the hate crime murder of bi-racial student Larry King has declared a mistrial. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether they will seek to retry McInerney, now 17 years old, for the murder of his gender variant classmate in 2008.  Steve Rothaus of Gay South Florida picked up the Associated Press report late this afternoon, detailing how the jury could not come to a unanimous verdict in the case.  Nine women and three men on the jury informed Judge Charles Campbell that they were stalemated over whether to find McInerney, who undisputedly shot 15-year-old Larry King to death with a .22 caliber pistol in first period computer class at E.O. Green Middle School in February 2008, guilty of manslaughter, first-degree murder, or second-degree murder.  Seven jurors declared they were in favor of a verdict of voluntary manslaughter, while the other five were split between first- and second-degree murder.

The defense team appears to have scored something of a victory, convincing a majority of the jury that their client was in some sort of “dissociative state” at the time of the killing.  More disturbingly for LGBTQ legal advocacy observers and hate crime activists is the partial success of the “gay panic defense” that Scott Wippert and the defense team denied was a part of their strategy, but which most sure was.  Defense hammered the jury with claims that teen gay student King was somehow responsible for his fate because of their rendition of “bizarre sexualized behavior” and “sexual aggression.”  The gay panic defense, which blames the victim for the crime, has been discredited for years in American courts, but the special circumstances of a youth like McInerney who came from a dysfunctional family background (both his parents were addicts) successfully clouded what was otherwise a clear cut case of first-degree, premeditated murder.

Under California law, McInerney was old enough to be tried as an adult.  Ventura County Prosecutor Maeve Fox argued that since the defendant told at least six people he was going to kill King, premeditation was clearly established. Further, Fox argued that McInerney was a fervent anti-gay boy, influenced by white supremacist and Neo-Nazi skinhead ideology and teachings.  McInerney was in possession of a trove of Nazi items and symbols, as well as white supremacist literature at the time of the murder.

Nonetheless, the mistrial gives the prosecution pause. As commentator Lisa Bloom, a respected attorney, noted on a CNN panel discussing the trial last week, the jury is not supposed to ignore premeditation or be swayed by sympathy for the sad circumstances of a defendant.  “[The gay panic defense] is not an acceptable defense in an American courtroom,”  she said. Bloom went on to assert that no jury would allow a racist to claim that rage over the acts and speech of a black person altered the consciousness of the defendant enough to push him to murder.  What is the prosecution to do in a situation in which the message that a boy was gay was enough to get him killed, and to hang the jury in his slayer’s murder trial?  McInerney killed King.  Now, whether he will face the justice his actions deserve is up in the air–as well as the memory of his victim, Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King.

September 1, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, California, gay panic defense, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings, Social Justice Advocacy, trans-panic defense, transgender persons | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Gay Salt Lake City Man Savagely Attacked Outside Club

Dane Hall, 20, (center), Victim of Brutal "Curb Checking" Attack

Salt Lake City, Utah – August 26th, a gay man was beaten, robbed, and “curb checked” outside Club Sound, a nightclub that is gay-themed on Friday nights.  According to Q Salt Lake, Dane Hall, 20, an openly gay Salt Lake citizen, was surrounded by a gang of four men yelling anti-gay slurs.  One of the assailants punched Hall in the back of the head, knocking him to the ground.  Another grabbed his shirt and held him while repeatedly striking him.  Then, in a move that could have killed him, Hall was forced face-down on the concrete curb with his mouth open.  His attacker then stomped repeatedly on the back of his head, breaking out six of his teeth, and splintering his jaw, a savage act called “curb checking.”  The Urban Dictionary defines “curb checking” as “The act of placing an unconscious or immobile individual’s head against a curb or similar embankment with their mouth open and stepping on or kicking them in the head.” 

Since Hall’s mouth is still wired shut from the injury, he emailed Q Salt Lake the details of the assault from his hospital: “I could have died. And a piece of bone from my jaw was jammed into my brain, to make things worse.”  Hall continued with a plea for information, since the police have been slow to identify his attackers. “If anyone has any information leading to the arrest I am offering a $10,000 reward.”  Hospital bills are mounting to over $30,000 so far.  If the Salt Lake Police do not find the assailants, Hall could be saddled for the full amount of his medical bills. This far, no suspects have been named in the case. Salt Lake City Police said the case is “active” and “being looked into.”

A pattern of attacks against gay men is forming in Salt Lake in the vicinity of Club Sound.  On a Friday night in April of this year, a 21-year-old man, Jordan Corona, was assaulted outside the club and suffered a concussion.  Q Salt Lake reported on the April attack, and quoted Corona as saying, “I just want people to see this kind of stuff really does happen and it needs to be stopped immediately.”  Corona was initially treated as a criminal by the Salt Lake City Police, and refused the services of a nurse in jail after his mistaken arrest.  Repeated sloth on the part of police to investigate anti-gay hate crimes such as those perpetrated against Hall and Corona, as well as tendencies to blame the victims instead of acting to protect the gay community, are concerning to the LGBTQ residents of Salt Lake and the wider population.  Corona protested his treatment, and the police department has acted to rectify their mistakes.  It remains to be seen if the police will do any better for Dane Hall.

September 1, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Utah | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Salt Lake City Man Savagely Attacked Outside Club


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