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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. […] successfully clouded what was otherwise a clear cut case of first-degree, premeditated murder. Unfinished Lives has more…. the judge in the trial of teen Brandon McInerney for the hate crime murder of bi-racial student […]

    Pingback by No Justice Yet « milkboys – The Boys Blog | September 2, 2011

  2. While I was surprised with the mistrial, I posited a couple weeks ago that this would not be a slam-dunk for the prosecution. Reason being that there is much push-back in re: hate crime enhancements. I understand the rationale for such enhancements, but the blogosphere is awash with white people upset at the h/c tagged to white offenders when black offenders are seldom charged the same. Granted many people do not grasp the specifics required for the enhancement. And as we are all aware, lack of understanding an issue is just one more reason to oppose it. Also, there seemed to be a good bit of press eliciting sympathy for McInerney by a California writer named Michael Mehas (see: http://www.stolenboy.com). The blog mostly chronicles Mehas’ writing of the movie ‘Alpha Dog’ but he has been following McInerney’s case likely to write another book. He is almost syncophantic with pity for the shooter, imploring people to consider how a mistreated young boy already felt, then to be subjected to Larry’s overt sex advances. Really? “Scared” of petite Larry? And now… a mistrial.

    Comment by MattGMD | September 2, 2011

  3. Is it true that Larry King’s behavior in school was disruptive to the learning process by his coming to school in makeup and girl’s boots? Did he chase boys, including the defendant, down the hall and into the bathroom, while making them the target of his sexually propositions? What about McInerney’s rights and the rights of other students? Not much said about that.

    I feel sorry for the ruined lives of both boys, but it very apparent that Gays and Lesbians are the new Nazis who demand special rights and privileges. Image the outrage if boys openly chased girls down the hallway with sexual requests. But gays do it and it is just fine and dandy, their God given right to do so.

    Comment by dirtydog1776 (@dirtydog1776) | September 2, 2011

    • The difference between the two boys’ lives is that Larry King does not have one any more. He was murdered, in cold blood. That is the brute, bare fact. McInerney killed him. That is not in dispute. Your assertion about “special rights and privileges” is offensive and patently false. This was a terrible event, an outrage, and LGBTQ people feel for both families, and for McInerney, the survivor. But what shall we say? That a person who is bothered by the way a woman dresses and makes passes is authorized to shoot her to death because of the way it made him feel? Even a 14-year-old in his right mind know that cannot be allowed in our society. If Brandon McInerney was mentally ill at the time of the murder, and that can be established for a jury, then let him and his defense team lodge a plea of “not guilty by reason of insanity.” They did not. McInerney pled “not guilty.” We will just await the decision of the prosecution about whether he will be retried for the murder of his classmate.

      Comment by unfinishedlives | September 2, 2011

      • Sorry, I didn’t realize that certain people have the right to disrupt the educational process and make unwanted sexual propositions to other people. Didn’t say that McINerney had a right to commit murder, but that the school should have the right to provide a safe and sane environment for all students. Larry King did have special rights and privileges because his behavior violated the rights of others without any consequences. The school should have taken action, but that is not considered politically correct.

        Comment by dirtydog1776 (@dirtydog1776) | September 6, 2011

    • It is a shame that this country is still overrun with so many people that can and do so willingly justify and/or find excuses for everyone. All things seem to turn into a racial, religious, cultural, sexual, victim, special rights, owed, deserved, or some other of thousands of reasons that people can come up with to explain away every type of behavior. When will the people of this country let the past be the past, move into the current era, and just start doing what is right for a change instead of blaming and excusing? Start thinking of others instead of yourselves. Start living for the human race instead of finding reasons not to.

      Comment by Vlachromani | September 3, 2011

      • You need to express your thoughts more clearly and to have a concise, central idea. Your post made no sense.

        Comment by dirtydog1776 (@dirtydog1776) | September 6, 2011

    • Yeah, good thing you locked into the real issue here. The fact that some hatemonger murdered someone in cold blood is clearly nothing compared to the travesty that is a gay boy misbehaving in school.

      And what are we thinking, demanding “special rights”, like the right to have our murderer convicted of murder.

      Comment by Jennifer Foshee (@jenniferfoshee) | September 9, 2011

  4. Read about the mis-trial this morning and what I got out of the story made me feel
    that either the Judge (in his instrutions) or the Proscutor screwd up.
    It`s hard to belive there will not be a re-trial but ya never know.

    Comment by John | September 2, 2011

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