Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Prosecutors To Retry Gay Teen Larry King’s Killer “Immediately”

Floral Tribute for Larry King, 15-year-old hate crime victim

Ventura County, California – Prosecutors in the Brandon McInerney murder trial promised to retry the teen for premeditated murder and a hate crime on Friday, the day after a Superior Court jury deadlocked on a verdict.  The Los Angeles Times reported that the prosecution maintains the evidence in the murder of 15-year-old gender variant Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King by his 14-year-old classmate in February 2008 is still persuasive: When McInerney shot King in an Oxnard middle school classroom, it was nothing less than a homophobic/transphobic hate crime and a clear cut case of premeditated homicide under California law.

The hung jury, who after several votes finally deadlocked at seven for voluntary manslaughter and five split between first- and second-degree murder, presents both a problem and an opportunity to the Ventura County officials.  On the one hand, jurors have suggested that they believe charging McInerney, now 17, for murder as an adult, was an overreach. Had he been convicted of first-degree murder, the defendant would have served better than fifty years in prison, and perhaps life.  Had McInerney been tried and convicted in juvenile court, he would have been released by age 25. Some other jurors have said to defense attorneys that the hate crime charge was not proven in court.  On the other hand, a conviction as a juvenile may be easier to obtain. So, the prosecution will have to determine whether to re-try the defendant as a juvenile this time, even though California law permits 14-year-olds to be charged and tried as adults in cases of capital murder.  Chief Assistant District Attorney Jim Ellison told the Times: “We will consider the fact that this was a very significantly split jury. We will consider everything. There are obviously very strong reactions on both sides, and we will consider all those in how we proceed.”

The murder of Larry King is the most closely watched hate crime murder case in the United States, since the trial of Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson for the slaying of University of Wyoming student, 21-year-old Matthew Wayne Shepard in 1998. Of particular importance to LGBTQ advocates and other hate crimes victims throughout the country is the controversial use of the “gay panic defense” by McInerney’s defense team.  Should McInerney receive a lesser sentence for the murder of King because he was disturbed by King’s sexual orientation and gender presentation, or by his bearing, words, and deeds that expressed that dimension of who King was, such as the clothes or cosmetics he wore, or his flirtatiousness, then the implications for other killers perturbed by race, religion, sexuality, or gender characteristics would be immense. Also of note is the success of the defense in minimizing the bullying King, a bi-racial gay boy, endured in schools for over five years, virtually exclusively because of bias against his sexual orientation and gender presentation.

In a second report on Friday, the L.A. Times interviewed long-time former district attorney from Ventura County, Michael Bradbury.  Bradbury contends that even though prosecutors may glean a whole trove of new information from the current jury, re-trying anyone after a deadlocked jury is risky, especially re-trying a youth like McInerney.  Bradbury told the Times, “The public may see a straightforward murder case, but this case is far more complex, firstly, because of the age of the defendant at the time of the act and, secondly, the manner in which he was raised by his parents, which was clearly dysfunctional and by all accounts horrific.” The former D.A. went on to say that the host of strong emotions surrounding the case makes a second trial’s outcome “highly unpredictable.”

September 2, 2011 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, California, Character assassination, gay panic defense, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings, Social Justice Advocacy, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. Okay, I suppose this presents a few questions: Can the parents be charged with: child abuse, child endangerment, assault with a deadly weapon (Brandon), depraved indifference, reckless endangerment, or conspiracy to commit murder?

    Are there any criminal statutes, in any state, that criminalize the teachings of hate-groups as an illegal indoctrination of an unprotected minor?

    Could you point me to the transcripts of this trial?

    thank you for an interesting and sobering site.

    Comment by Ann | September 7, 2011

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