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Lawrence King Murder Trial: Jurors Deadlocked. Mistrial Possible.

by David Badash on September 1, 2011

in News

Jurors are deadlocked in the murder trial of Brandon McInerney, the 17-year old accused of shooting to death his gay classmate, Lawrence King, in 2008. The judge has ordered the jurors back into deliberation, but said he will declare a mistrial if they cannot reach an agreement. The case has lasted nine weeks already, with eight weeks of testimony and deliberations that began last Friday.

Lawrence (Larry) King was 15 when he was shot to death by Brandon McInerney, but the defense has used the so-called “gay panic” defense. McInerney could get life in prison for charges including premeditated murder and a hate crime.

The L.A. Times reports today:

The jury began deliberating Friday, weighing eight weeks of testimony in a trial that included nearly 100 witnesses. Many of those testifying were students and teachers at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard who saw tensions on campus rising after 15-year-old Larry King began coming to school dressed in makeup and girl’s boots.

McInerney, then 14, shot King twice in the back of the head in a school computer lab on Feb. 12, 2008. The prosecution says it was a calculated murder carried out in part because McInerney was exploring white supremacist ideology and didn’t like homosexuals.

Defense attorneys painted a different picture, that of a bright but abused 14-year-old who snapped after being sexually harassed by King.

The trial was followed closely by gay-rights groups that have fought hard to protect gay and transgendered students from campus bullying. But as the weeks of testimony rolled on and a more nuanced portrait emerged of what was happening at E.O. Green in the weeks before the shooting, it also raised a host of thorny questions.

Why didn’t the school administrators step in to quell the tensions rising on campus after King started taunting boys on campus with flirtations that he knew would upset them? Was the defense employing a “gay panic” strategy in blaming the victim for being killed? And, more broadly, why was McInerney, who was 14 at the time of the killing, even being tried as an adult?

Over eight weeks of testimony, the prosecution laid out a case of premeditated murder by McInerney, who prosecutor Maeve Fox described as a bright boy from a broken and violent home who knew what he was doing when he brought a .22-caliber gun to school.

Visit the Lawrence King memorial.

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