Waymon Hudson

Lawrence King's Killer to be tried as Adult

Filed By Waymon Hudson | July 28, 2008 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media
Tags: Brandon McInerney, hate crimes against LGBT people, juvenile, Lawrence King

Brandon McInerney, the alleged killer of 15 year-old Lawrence King, will be tried as an adult.

mcinerneyb.jpgFrom the Ventura County Star:

Relying on past court decisions, a judge ruled Thursday that trying a 14-year-old boy accused of murder in an adult court does not violate the constitution, swatting down legal arguments raised by the boy's attorney that it was cruel and unusual punishment to do so.

'I cannot say that this is unconstitutional,' said Ventura County Superior Court Judge Douglas Daily.

This very issue caused quite a heated debate here on Bilerico when I last posted about many LGBT groups asking for McInernery to be tried as a juvenile. The comments came fast and furious on both sides of the debate...

While McInerney's lawyer has promised "not to gay bash" King in his defense of his client, it seems that many news sources are already putting King on trial.

First the Advocate ran a rather horrendous cover story that started the "was he asking for it" debate. Then Newsweek recently chimed in with its own slanted coverage about how King "used his sexuality as a weapon." The entire article was devoted to investigating King's sexuality and gender expression, with little coverage of McInerney or his past. Many were left feeling that the Newsweek story blamed King for his own death.

I feel the outrage over King's brutal murder and the ensuing coverage (and have expressed it many times here and other places). Yet I am extremely troubled with the decision to try McInerney as an adult.

I know that many do not share this viewpoint, but the courts have a juvenile system for a reason. A 14 year-old has diminished capacity and responsibility compared to an adult.

There is nothing good about this case. I am outraged over King's murder, but I have a problem getting behind trying another child as an adult. He should be punished harshly without a doubt, but that can happen while recognizing the realities of his age and cognitive abilities.

I think Queerty.com summed it up the best:

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, this shit's mad messed up. We have a dead boy and another whose life might as well be over. This is a perfect example of a homophobic culture's horrific repercussions...


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I'm so disappointed in this decision. He may have killed someone, but he's still a kid.

I'm really disappointed as well, Bil.

I also wonder why the media isn't focusing on this issue (minors killing minors, juvenile justice, etc), rather than blaming King for his own murder. It's such a disgusting bias...

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | July 28, 2008 10:51 AM

Trying him as an adult is the right decision. His penalty should be life without indeterminate sentencing, the possibility of parole or the death sentence. Too many of these murderers get off with light sentences from bigoted judges.

Several GLBT groups took the position that Brandon McInerney shouldn’t be tried as an adult. I lived in LA for a long time and every week young African Americans, Indians and Latinos were sentenced as adults without a peep of protest. Is this case, where a Euroamerican thug murdered a GLBT person of color, any different from the others?

The increase of hate murders is escalating at a frightening pace because Obama and McCain won’t stop telling bigots that we’re second class citizens who don’t deserve the elementary right to be married. And, to be fair, much of the blame lies with Congressional Democrats and Republicans who decided that our rights and lives were expendable. ENDA and the hate crimes bill were ditched and DOMA and DADT kept on the books. The Democrats have controlled Congress for two years so most of the blame is theirs. The Republicans were delighted to go along for the ride but they weren’t driving the bus that ran over us.

Many people oppose the death penalty and so do I because of the ‘justice’ system. The courts, police and politicians who exercise oversight are mired in class based and racist prejudices. It’s set up to punish working class and non Europeans, whose percentage in the US prison population of over two million is vastly dispropotionate to their census percentage.

However I make an exception in the case of two crimes – genocide and hate murder. They are the same crime except in scale. Hate murders often escalate into genocide, as in Bosnia-Herzegovina, NAZI Germany and the history of US treatment of Native Americans and African Americans.

I usually take the position of "fry 'em!" with murderers like Brandon McIneney. Yet, in this case, I don't support trying him as an adult, and definitely don't support capital punishment for McInerney. I believe that trying him as an adult greatly increases the chances that McInerney's counsel will invoke a gay/trans panic defense, and if he is acquitted of the charges based on that defense, we have a terrible legal precedent set that would cause hate murderers to get off scot-free for their crimes, nationally. It would become open season. If tried as a juvenile, the case publicity gets ratcheted down (aren't juvenile cases tried behind closed doors in California?), a plea-bargain will probably be struck quietly, and no panic defense invoked - so no legal precedent.

Of course, the liberal doo-gooder in me thinks that, if tried as a juvenile, McInerney might actually get psychiatric help, get over his hatred of GLBT people, and possibly end up a useful contributing member of society. But that sounds like an awfully flighty liberal thing to say. Frogs might learn to fly, birds might learn to swim, and James Dobson might actually grow a brain, too.

Sorry, but it was doubly sad day when the California Courts System allowed this child to be tried as an adult. As has been pointed out already the coverage will now run to "why" Brian McInerny did this. All too often the answer is going to be "he was driven to it and I'd have done it as well."

I think in their deepest hearts most people cannot get behind the lifetime incarceration of a child. Him sitting in Folsom or somewhere of the sort wasting away his life will be totally difficult to justify I will imagine.

Much better to have done something to reduce the hatred and rancor and tried him as a juvenile. That he committed murder I think is doubtless; that the State should do so as well is plenty doubtful.


If it was an accidental shooting, fine.

This was premeditated. He found the (Daddy's?) gun, brought it to school WITH THE INTENT to shoot King. He aimed for the face. King died.

Not only do I feel McInerney deserves to be tried as an adult, I feel the owner of the gun should have the same charges brought against them.

Hell people--it's not like they don't sell small handgun safes *to prevent kids from getting ahold of the handgun*. If you're going to own a gun? You should learn how to store it properly with a kid in the house.

And this is coming from a kid who grew up in a Vietnam vet's house--with guns all over. Who was picked on and punched and tripped and otherwise had my life made miserable by my so-called classmates for being smart and fat. And, at NO point did I *ever* say "Gee, maybe I'll grab Dad's Browning pistol and shoot someone!"

Yet, McInerney *did*.

And today, King's family and friends have to deal with McInerney's decision. And that's why he *should* be tried as an adult. He stole a life. Friends and family of King will never be able to hug him again. King will never grow up, get a job, have a boyfriend, go to a gay bar, buy his first house, his first new car, or any other things that any other classmate of King's will still be able to do in the future.

As with anything, this is my opinion.

This is just plain frustrating. As horrible as his crime was, McInerney is still a 14 year old. I don't know about anyone else, but most of the 14 year olds I know are still basically acting on what they've been taught by others rather than what they've learned through their own experience. While I don't consider him blameless in the least- generally, it doesn't take most people very long to figure out that shooting other people is wrong- at this point, he was more than likely acting on whatever queerphobic crap he's been fed throughout his life.

Yes, I understand the desire to make an example of the kid, but is that really what justice is all about?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 28, 2008 10:32 PM

Somewhere at the junction of hormones, pop star sexuality, fear, ignorance, access to a weapon, immature judgment, uncaring or unavailable parents, peculiar school attitudes came this tragedy.

Just at an age where kids pull away from their parents and try to become "individuals" is exactly when they need to be held closest. Lawrence King's flame burned brightly and perhaps it hurt his killer's eyes, but that is no excuse for what he did.

Unfortunately, due to his age, he will likely receive no punishment for this other than massive legal bills and an interruption in his life that will be impossible to overcome. It would be surprising if he can ever have a normal productive life and every failure he has after this he can chart to this one stupid act of a confused feverish brain. There are just no winners in this and no happy endings in sight. No vengeance, just grief will cover this waste.

As horrible as his crime was, McInerney is still a 14 year old.

A 14 year old who murdered someone.

Yes, I understand the desire to make an example of the kid, but is that really what justice is all about?

Turn the situation around. What kind of example does it set if he gets tried as a juvenile? It basically sends a message to any other young haters out there that they can get away with killing, provided they do it while they're young enough.

David Pearce | July 29, 2008 6:35 PM

Could this be a ploy to get the boy off completely? If the District Atty staff does not think highly of gays, what better way to look good to the public by prosecuting the boy as an adult, thereby having the jurors decide the punishment is way to extreme due to his age and declare him innocent.

The DA would appear a hardliner, but actually just get the boy off.

I was once a juror in a child sexual assault case (very minor, but it was traumatic to the girl involved)by a boy 17 yrs old, and one juror said he would never consider the boy guilty because he disagreed with the consequence if convicted.

David-

That's a scary possiblity. A jury could go lighter for fear of the consequence. Great point.

McInerney allegedly pulled the trigger that ended a life, but there were others who had some effect on what happened. The father certainly appears to be an irresponsible gun owner. He should face consequences. Where was security at the school? Shouldn't someone there face consequences also? If the deed can be shared among several individuals, then I would agree with trying him as a juvenile. But if he will be the only one charged, then he should, if found guilty, spend the rest of his life behind bars to bring to an end an open season on LGBT youth. This isn't about revenge; it's about deterrence. If someone knows they could spend the rest of their life behind bars, maybe they will think twice before murdering someone in cold blood. Despite having a diminished capacity, a 14 year old should understand the implications of his act. Kids don't kill kids in a civilized society, and the penalty must be more than a slap on the wrist. Otherwise, respect for the law is further eroded.

Venecia Tillar | November 6, 2009 10:31 PM

I cried today when I read about this. It was the first time I'd ever heard of it. I know some of you are wondering, "You just heard about this? What rock do you live under?" I'm the kind of person who doesn't watch TV and just sits in her room and read so of course I wouldn't hear about this.

When I think about Lawrence King's death I am angry. I'm angry because this boy who was only a year older than me and in the same grade will never grow up. He'll never get to go to Homecoming, go to prom, go on his first date and walk across the stage and recieve his diploma. I'm mad because this sweet, innocent little boy, who would have contributed to the world more and changed many peoples lives, died instead of someone like me, who will probably never do anything useful to help other people.

With that beinng said, I still don't think Brandon McInerney deserves to be tried as an adult. In my mind I cannot sentence someone who is the same age as me to life in prison. Being 14 myself, I know that most teens don't think a all. They don't think that if they keep teasing the small, quiet little boy in the back of the classroom that one day he'll snap and bring a gun to cool and shoot people. They don't think that if they call the fat girl names she'll take a knife and stab somebody.

I think McInerney, deserves to be sent to Juvenile and get professional help. After he's gotten the help he needs he should be let back into society knowing what he did.

If he got married and had a son, he should look his son in the face and know that he shot a young teen in the back of the head twice. When his son is graduating from the eigth grade he should think about how little Lawrence King didn't get to graduate graduate eigth grade. He should think about the nice man that Lawrence will never marry or the child he'll never adopt. That, in my opinion is a more fitting punshment.

If he was sent to prison, all that will happen is that anger that he has will get worse and all he'll think about is how those "gays" ruined his life. When he would be released there would be a high chance that he'll kill other openly gay people. We don't need any more murders.