Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Plea Deal for Larry King’s Murderer: The Inside Story

Brandon McInerney pled guilty to the execution-style murder of his gay teen classmate, Larry Fobes King.

Ventura County, California – Prosecutors in the Brandon McInerney murder trail agreed to a plea deal rather than take young gay Larry King’s confessed killer into court a second time, according to EDGE Boston.  McInerney, 14 at the time he shot his 15-year-old gay classmate in the back of the skull in his middle school computer class in 2008, will be sentenced today.

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office agreed to a deal because they couldn’t be sure what would happen if they put McInerney back on trial again.

McInerney’s defense team succeeded in putting King on trial for his own murder, at least enough so that the jury in the first trial could not agree on a verdict, and a mistrial was declared.  While legal experts saw the case as a clear-cut instance of pre-meditated murder, the prosecutors for Ventura County could not surmount the sympathy factor for the 14-year-old, and the discomfort factor in the way the press and the defense portrayed King.  Instead of the forthright homophobic murder the prosecution sought, a combination of child-nostalgia and anti-transgender and anti-gay bias turned King into a “Franken-Larry,” a devious, dangerous homosexual predator–a portrayal that could not have been further from the truth about the real boy who was in transition from a scared, bullied gay school kid to a youth who could affirm and live out his gender variance.

Media distortion in the King case started as early as the first reports about the murder, with sensational accounts of what young King wore to school, and his responses to McInerney’s bullying.  Ramin Satoodeh, reporter for Newsweek, wrote a cover story on King that was devastating–likening the boy to a monstrous little predator, tottering after his love interests in platform heels.  McInerney’s defense lawyers countered prosecution evidence of his Neo-Nazi and white supremacist motives by casting King, who was smaller and weaker than McInerney, as the aggressor, and skillfully used the press to drive this point home.  The California law making a 14-year-old prosecutable as an adult in heinous cases using firearms (which this case was in both particulars) was also put on trial in the media.

In the end, justice for Larry King was not the goal of a chastised district attorney’s office.  Assistant DA Mike Frawley said that they “took into consideration the time [McInerney would have to spend] in jail to protect the community.”  McInerney’s murder conviction has been stayed, and he will be sentenced to 11 years for voluntary manslaugher, and 10 years for the use of a firearm. With the four years he has already served in jail, McInerney will serve 25 years total.  Had the first-degree murder conviction been impose, he would have served 51 years.  Now, the confessed murderer of a young gay boy will be out on the street by his 39th birthday, and the dubious “gay panic defense” receives new life in the American legal system.

December 19, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, California, gay bashing, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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

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

White Supremacist Loyalty Led to Larry King’s Murder, Expert Testifies

Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California – Larry King’s alleged killer was influenced by white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideals to shoot his gay classmate to death, according to the testimony of an expert witness.  Beginning on Wednesday, July 20, the Prosecutor Maeve Fox introduced evidence that Brandon McInerney held violent, ingrained white supremacist biases against gay people.  Drawings of swastikas and other white supremacist symbols and illustrations that McInerney possessed in his home and in his prison cell were presented to the court. On Friday, Simi Valley Police Detective Dan Swanson, an expert on white supremacy, testified to the court that McInerney’s embrace of white supremacist tenets was the primary reason he hated 15-year-old Larry King enough to kill him.  White supremacists hold deep animosity for gays and lesbians, often resorting to physical violence against them, Swanson said.  He further told the court that McInerney was a violent member of a supremacist street gang, according to the Washington Post. McInerney’s defense team sought to discredit the prosecution’s bias case by presenting schoolmate and prison officer witnesses who testified that McInerney was not a white supremacist. The Ventura County Star reported that McInerney’s direct supervisor at juvenile hall, Chris Niblett, testified that McInerney was a “good kid” who sometimes got in fights with others, but on the whole showed no particular tendency for violence, and no evidence of gang membership. Niblett went on to say that McInerney was allowed to use a PlayStation as an award for good behavior. Three juvenile hall videos of fights involving McInerney with other inmates were shown to the jury on Friday.  The prosecution said that they demonstrated, in contradiction to defense image of their client, that McInerney was prone to violence.

McInerney is charged with the execution-style murder of Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King in his middle school classroom in February 2008. He is being charged and tried as an adult, though at the time of the fatal shooting, McInerney was 14 years old. Prosecuting Attorney Fox told the media that she would wrap up her case against McInerney perhaps as early as Wednesday of nest week.

July 23, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, California, gay bashing, 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Larry King’s Killer Offered Plea Deal

Lawrence King and Brandon McInerneyVentura, CA – The Ventura County Star reports that Brandon McInerney, now 15, has been offered a plea deal that would potentially cut his sentence in half for the February 2008 murder of his 15-year-old gay classmate, Larry King.  District Attorney Greg Totten will allow McInerney to plead guilty to first degree murder in exchange for the lighter sentence.  “It would bring it down, from a maximum of 53 years to life, to 25 years to life,” said Maeve Fox, the Senoir Deputy DA who is actually prosecuting the case.  Further, she said to the Star, “The reason Mr. Totten authorized that offer is because we are keenly aware of this young man’s age. We are keenly aware of his developmental level being that he was 14 years old at the time of the crime,” Fox said. “And, we are also keenly aware that he is a very dangerous individual.”  The prosecution would also allow McInerney to plead guilty to the hate crime charge, and serve that sentence concurrently with the murder sentence.  McInerney’s lawyer, Robyn Bramson, has complained of cruelty against her client because of his young age.  The prosecution has countered that the defense is intentionally slowing down this case to a snail’s pace.  Now the preliminary hearing has been postponed until July 20 at the defense team’s request.  Fox responded, “I am out of options.  The King family has a right, the people of the state have a right to have this case moved along.”  King, who declared himself gay and presented femininely, had been harassed by schoolmates for months in Oxnard’s E.O. Green Middle School.  McInerney, slightly younger than King, but physically more dominating and tough, had participated in these bullying sessions, according to classmates of both boys.  As Valentine’s Day 2008 neared, King let McInerney know that he liked him.  Teased about it by other students, McInerney allegedly brought a 22 calibre pistol to school, and shot King in the back of the head while the boys were in their morning computer class.  Not since the hate crime murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 has a story of bias-motivated murder of an LGBT person captured the public’s attention so much.  If the deal the prosecution has offered is accepted by McInerney, he could be out on the street in his forties.

July 9, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, California, gay men, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Larry King’s Killer Offered Plea Deal

   

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