Ventura County Deputy District Attorney Maeve Fox called then-14 year old Brandon McInerney's shooting of his 15-year-old gay classmate Larry King twice in the back of the head a "shocking and unforgettable murder."
Brandon McInerney during trial on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011 (Illustration screen captured from a Fox11 report)
Fox argued that McInerney deserved to be convicted of the Feb. 2008 first degree murder for his conscious decision to kill King, according to AP. McInerney told a psychologist that he became enraged after a perceived insult when King said "What's up baby" as the effeminate gay teen passed McInerney in the hall of their E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard,
"He intentionally got that gun; he told people what he was going to do," Fox said of McInerney. "He shot and killed an innocent person."
McInerney's attorney Scott Wippert said in his closing argument that the two youths were very much alike - both coming from broken homes. He said McInerney was not a budding white supremacist, as the prosecution claimed, and didn't have any problems with the gay teen until King started dressing up and "sexually harassing him." Wippert pointed the finger at school administrators for not handling the problem.
"We're not saying Larry King is a terror, a bad kid, but the adults should have stopped this behavior," Wippert said.
One issue the LGBT community is watching closely is whether the jury accepts what many perceive was Wippert's use of the "gay panic defense."
Fox called the gay panic defense a "smoke screen" - noting that McInerney didn't just snap after King's alleged sexual harassment since he told at least six people of his intention days before the murder. She cited the testimony of one student who overheard McInerney say he was going to shoot the supposedly unpopular King four days before the killing in the classroom. "[Mcinerney] thought he was doing everyone a favor," Fox said.
Fox also cited McInerney's interview with a psychologist in which he gave several indications - including that he contemplated not shooting King - that underscore that the murder was premeditated and not committed in the heat of passion, the criteria for a voluntary manslaughter conviction. "It's stunning in its clarity," Fox said.
AP reports: "To believe a gay panic defense, all "reason and judgment goes out the window, and the only possible solution is extermination," Fox said. 'Do not get sucked into this lie.'"
Wippert insisted that he was not using the gay panic defense but rather trying to illuminate McInerney's violent background and psychology - all of which lead him to take offense at King's effeminate behavior. The defense contended that McInerney "snapped when he heard moments before the shooting that King wanted to change his first name to Latisha," AP reported.
"This isn't a gay panic defense. This is a 14-year-old boy who was sexually harassed," Wippert said. "We haven't assassinated anyone's character."
However, Fox told the jury: "He's completely aware of what he did."
McInerney is charged as an adult with first-degree murder and a hate crime; he faces more than 50 years if convicted. Jurors were also instructed that they could convict McInerney of voluntary manslaughter, which is what Wippert is requesting.
Wippert resumes his closing argument Friday morning.
Crossposted at LGBTPOV