Bil Browning

Hung Jury in Larry King Murder Trial

Filed By Bil Browning | September 01, 2011 5:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Brandon McInerney, Larry King, murder, school bullying

It looks like the gay panic defense has worked again.

A jury has been unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of Brandon McInerney, the 17-year-old accused of shooting a gay classmate to death in 2008.

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.

I'm sickened. Also sickening? That they tried McInerney as an adult instead of a juvenile - even over the objections of almost every LGBT organization and King's parents.


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What happens now? I'm not familiar with California / US law, but I'd guess there would be a retrial?

One problem Bil - if they'd attempted to try him as a juvenile, he'd be released when he turned 18 anyway. So even if found guilty, he wouldn't serve a single day, but get off scot-free, due to the delays in trial, appeals, likely mistrial etc.

It would declare open season on trans kids.

Yes, there will be a retrial.

McInerney will be 18 this January... honestly, what other choice do they really have but to try him as an adult? I was concerned about this trial when I saw the prosecution's case lasted about 2 days versus weeks of utter bullsh*t for the defense. If they retry the case as some kind of unpremeditated attack this will be a huge step backward (which is really their only choice if they don't go for murder). This was about as premeditated a crime as you can get... he bragged he was going to do it the day before. As usual, trans lives are worthless.

I am so sick so of hearing Larry King described as gay. He wore makeup, girl's boots and wanted to be called Leticia. Does that sound like a gay boy or a budding transgender girl to you (not that we'll ever know for sure now)? Misappropriate much?

Or maybe he just liked cross-dressing.

It's not like RuPaul identifies as trans.

Well, since, like you said, none of us will ever know, feel free to attribute trans identity to him, and allow others to feel free to attribute gender queerness, queerness, cross-dressing, or gay identity to him. We'll all be just as wrong and right as each other.

Why do you speak as if crossdressing was a seperate thing from being trans?

For the simple reason that there are people who cross-dress who don't identify as being trans. Plenty of my friends wear articles of women's clothing and identify as gay men.

King cross-dressed and used makeup regularly since the 7th grade and was using the name Letitia (and NOT as a campy joke the way some gay men do). Most trans feminine teens ID themselves as gay early on because trans identities are more complex and scary to communicate to others (and to accept in oneself). You're welcome to call King 'queer' but that doesn't strip away all the reasons King would be part of the trans community and, sadly, that's what media (especially GL media) has done in this case.

Ironically, were King living as an out trans girl (which is where I believe King was going) the case wouldn't have received 1/10th the publicity it did (the same thing happened with the Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado case). King being simplistically labeled as 'a gay boy' is why the case is as well known as it is. There are numerous trans youth only a few years older than King murdered every year which are barely even mentioned by gay or straight media. In the Lateisha Green murder case, she was mislabeled as a gay boy for nearly a year before the media begrudgingly acknowledged her trans girl identity.

It's also a fact there was an out lesbian teen in the classroom where King with murdered who was not targeted by McInerney (nor, as I understand it, did he threaten her). Which suggests that a) King's gender expression had a LOT to do with his murder; b) that trans feminine expression is more of a trigger to someone like McInerney than just 'queer' identity; c) King's 'cross-gender' expression is why the defense focused so much on King's supposed 'intimidation' of McInerney focusing on incidents where the two had no physical contact and where King was only even in the vague vicinity of McInerney.

I know very well that trans youth are largely neglected and invisible compared to their LGB counterparts and the hierarchy of LGBT sympathy in the community and the media.

I would refer to him as "queer" or "gender queer" because I simply cannot know (or will ever know, barring some personal artifact of admission) if he is gay or trans. Please do not mistake that as me attempting to "strip him" of trans identity. I've made it very, very clear in my comments that all terms, trans included, are valid terms given that nothing refutes any of them.

My comment about gay men and women's clothing was merely a response to the question of why I separate cross-dressing and trans identity in general. Do many trans people cross-dress? Yes, though I imagine for trans people, it wouldn't be "cross"-dressing at all. Are all cross-dressers trans? No.

To be exact, anyone who crossdresses (and I'm not talking about Halloween crossdressing) is considered part of the "transgender umbrella" whether they ID themselves as trans or not (and yes, I am totally aware there are many people who aren't comfortable being described as trans, including many transsexual people and some crossdressers). It falls under the legal issues which might be impacted by gender expression and potentially gender identity as well. Also note there are LOTS of gay people (and certainly trans people) who don't ID as queer, so really what you're doing IDing King as queer is no different than someone IDing King as trans.

I feel even more sadness for King that Letitia never was allow to be and that even now, King is, in perpetuity, assigned a male pronoun and identity which we have no idea was appropriate. It's a kind of double murder almost all trans victims face and I wish people in LG media would be more sensitive to it.

Lots of crossdressers haven't encountered the term bi-gender yet. Yet it seems to explain the experiences of many. The crossdressing community has been rather hamstrung by hetero-cis-partner-privileging policies in many forums and organisations and very much also in terminology. There's not been enough of an exploration of non-binary gender identities and there's plenty of binary-gender Vs non-binary-gender hostility in pretty much every community (and in some places vice versa) which also significantly impacts the capacity for people to discuss the full diversity of gender identity and expression and sex.

So much of the nomenclature battles come from people not wanting to be associated with some group that they have accepted the negative stereotypes and myths about. And that significantly impacts our capacity to understand each other and ourselves.

On the strength of the available facts, it is quite clear that Letitia King was a trans girl who is being misgendered by the mainstream media out of ignorance, and by the gay media out of a desire to appropriate anti-trans bigotry. Just as they did with the Barry Winchell case.

Rachel Bellum | September 1, 2011 11:25 PM

I agree with you Rebecca.

Rachel Bellum | September 2, 2011 4:17 AM

from the CNN report: http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/09/01/california.gay.student.murder/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

"Friends said King was proud of being openly gay. He liked wearing jewelry and makeup to school, and he often wore high-heeled boots with the school uniform. He asked his teachers to call him Leticia instead of Larry."

While some gay boys (and perhaps more straight boys) crossdress (which some already feels places them in the umbrella category of trans), wearing makeup and feminine apparel, and changing your name is not the behavior of being openly gay.

Rachel Bellum | September 1, 2011 10:16 PM

It just never occurred to me as a real possibility that this could happen.

Me either. I was sure it would be an either or situation. But you know, the case is high profile with a lot of convolution involving two (at the time) minors. They've built a sympathy case for the murderer (let's assume it's at least in part legit). What jury wants to let a homophobic/transphobic killer free with no justice for the kid he shot but also convict an abused minor killer as an adult?

In fact, I wonder if the hung jury wasn't just that they didn't want to make the tough call one way or the other...

Of course, if the sympathy case is all razzle dazzle (which I suspect, but am not necessarily sold on), then those lawyers have done their job and they've made conviction even less likely...*sigh

Rachel Bellum | September 1, 2011 11:24 PM

I'm prepared to believe McInerney had a troubled childhood. Although no one in my school ever got shot, the kids who I would compare to him all had similar and troubled backgrounds. And all things being equal, I would prefer that he not be tried as an adult (though no I don't think it's in his or our best interest for him to be out of the system in the very short time it will take him to turn 18 as mentioned above).

However, I just don't see how a jury can fail to return anything but a guilty verdict on something in this very egregious case. In some ways I would have have been disappointed and upset with manslaughter, but I also would have understood the sympathy for a troubled child.

I want to hear what was going through the jury's minds.

This is not about his guilt which is painfully obvious from the facts of the case. This was a situation where people in the jury should have admitted they were uncomfortable trying him as an adult and EXCUSED themselves from the jury. It's a typical jury behavior in cases with really young defendants where they use lesser charges because they're overwhelmed with the responsibility of putting him away for a long period of time. They also clearly were unable to follow the judge's instructions about what their options were and the criteria of premeditation (which was very obvious in this case) and so often, when jury members don't admit their impartiality and are unable to follow judges instructions is where these hung trials occur. I wasn't surprised about this situation.

Me either. I was sure it would be an either or situation. But you know, the case is high profile with a lot of convolution involving two (at the time) minors. They've built a sympathy case for the murderer (let's assume it's at least in part legit). What jury wants to let a homophobic/transphobic killer free with no justice for the kid he shot but also convict an abused minor killer as an adult?

In fact, I wonder if the hung jury wasn't just that they didn't want to make the tough call one way or the other...

Of course, if the sympathy case is all razzle dazzle (which I suspect, but am not necessarily sold on), then those lawyers have done their job and they've made conviction even less likely...*sigh

no I don't think it's in his or our best interest for him to be out of the system in the very short time it will take him to turn 18 as mentioned above
What do you mean? If he'd been found guilty of anything, there'd be an appeal. The killer turns 18 in January. There was no possible way the killer would have faced any punishment at all, regardless of the verdict, had he been tried as a juvenile. The defence could have spun out the trial for even longer - then it would be mooted in January even before a verdict.

He wouldn't serve a single day.

That was obvious from day one.

Letting a killer go without even a light tap on the wrist would have been a bad precedent - even worse than this one.

Rachel Bellum | September 2, 2011 3:58 AM

I'm not disagreeing with you. I don't really want to sidetrack the comments section of this piece into a debate about the juvenile system or rehabilitation, but, for the sake of clarity, I felt I should reply.

I think there are good reasons in general for prosecuting children differently than adults. And I take communal pride from those LGBT groups who advocated against seeking blind vengeance.

However, I do believe this was a planned and calculated execution. And that there will be people and groups who will reward McInerney for his actions. Society should be protected from someone who would execute others without provocation. Society needs to be protected from the possible ramifications of others glorifying McInerney. And if McInerney is ever to have anything approaching a normal life or to ever contribute positively to society, he not only needs some guidance, but to be sheltered from those who would exploit him (I mention this because I do believe that the goal whenever possible should be rehabilitation).

And yes, I also doubt that the legal system is really functioning to accomplish all those goals, but what other mechanism is there? I'm not the biggest fan of the US prison system, especially the current corporate version, but I do see value in separating certain kinds of criminals, for example violent murderers, from general society.

If my choices were to treat him as adult and send him to prison for life or set him free as a juvenile, I wouldn't even feel I had been presented with a choice. That is in fact why I was so surprised that the jury ended up in a deadlock.

If my choices were to treat him as adult and send him to prison for life or set him free as a juvenile, I wouldn't even feel I had been presented with a choice. That is in fact why I was so surprised that the jury ended up in a deadlock
That's why I considered a deadlock to be the most likely scenario.

If I was confronted with a situation where the facts would (through mandatory sentencing provisions) lead to an unjust sentence under those particular circumstances, or an even more unjust one that would have left a killer free to kill again - I honestly don't know what I'd do.

The problem is that I have zero confidence in the US prison system to salvage this evil little scrote. The likelihood is that he'd get even more evil, not less.

If I had control over sentencing, I'd give him an indefinite sentence. Only to be released if there was a 100% certainty of rehabilitation, as there might well be given the age at which he committed a thoroughly pre-meditated murder.

If freed, he'll kill again. If imprisoned, he'll almost certainly join the Aryan Nation inside. Those "re-enactment" documents? Wrong regiment. They were for the HitlerJugend Division, no re-enactment group in California wants anything to do with them. Just exactly what you'd expect from a budding White Supremacist schoolboy though, an obsession with the "Hitler Youth".

I wish the prosecution had known more about re-enactment, and history in general. Maybe next time they'll pick this up.

Life without parole, for an act committed at 14? No. That's wrong too.