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Gay Coalition Calls for Lawrence King Killer to be Tried as Juvenile

A coalition of gay groups has urged Greg Totten, the District Attorney in the Lawrence King case to try Brandon McInerney, the troubled teen who shot and killed Lawrence King on February 12th in front of a classroom of students because he was gay, as a juvenile. Shortly after the murder, it was announced that McInerney would be tried as an adult.

McinerneySaid the coalition in a statement: "We are saddened and outraged by the murder of junior high school student Lawrence King. At the same time, we call on prosecutors not to compound this tragedy with another wrong. We call on them to treat the suspect as a juvenile, not as an adult. (The alleged perpetrator should) be held accountable for his actions. But we support the principles underlying our juvenile justice system that treat children differently than adults and provide greater hope and opportunity for rehabilitation."

The coalition of groups includes Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Transgender Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Equality California, Gay Straight Alliance Network, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The District Attorney's office has not responded. McInerney's arraignment is scheduled for May 8.

Coalition urging D.A. to try shooting suspect as juvenile [ventura county star]

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  1. Why can't i find "any" News clips on YouTube, about the Lawrence King Murder?

    Posted by: Lee | Apr 16, 2008 8:57:16 AM

  2. WHAT?!?! Yet another instance of major gay groups and I having different opinions.

    How can we support hate crimes legislation and then plead for mercy for someone the judicial system is trying to punish particularly harsh as his crime was heinous and hate-motivated.

    If I currently financially support any of these groups, they can consider my checks stopped.

    Posted by: Dan B | Apr 16, 2008 8:59:55 AM

  3. Fuck that. This piece of shit is probably already bragging about killing a fag in jail.

    Posted by: Al | Apr 16, 2008 9:22:51 AM

  4. First, not all of us support hate crimes legislation. Assault, murder, harassment are crimes; there is no need to get into why someone did it.

    But more to the point, we are asking for tolerance, acceptance, and compassion. If we cannot express compassion for others--even those that have wronged us--then we don't deserve what we are asking for. The boy is too young to be treated as an adult, no matter what his crime.

    Posted by: Dennis | Apr 16, 2008 9:23:28 AM

  5. Dennis, I completely agree with you, both on the fact not all of us support hate crimes legislation, and that this is an excellent opportunity to show compassion. Granted my initial reaction was let the kid fry, but stepping back I realize that this kid shouldn't be treated like an adult.

    Posted by: kujhawker | Apr 16, 2008 9:38:05 AM

  6. "First, not all of us support hate crimes legislation. Assault, murder, harassment are crimes; there is no need to get into why someone did it."

    Well then some of us are idiots. The "why" is crucial: it distinguishes between first and second-degree murder, manslaughter, self-defense and justified self-defense.

    It distinguishes between a terrorist and a freedom fighter.

    It distinguishes between a petty thief and Jean Valjean.

    When a crime is committed because of bias all of those affected by the bias are victimized in some way - e.g., maybe we feel more threatened. When a crime is committed because of what someone did - say, if Laurence King had thrown a stapler at his killer and was killed in the ensuing melee - it is less harmful to society because it doesn't victimize all gays in the same way. I'm sure someone else will make the distinction clearer for you.

    Posted by: Anon | Apr 16, 2008 9:38:24 AM

  7. I do think why someone commits a crime is important. There are varying degrees of culpability, and the law needs to reflect that. Interesting how some people are for harsher sentences for child rape and killing, but then don't think gays should have "special" protection. The government has a legitimate role not only to set sentences, but also to send a message to the populace about certain crimes.

    As for being tried as an adult, that's just absurd. He's a kid. Period. If he can be saved, he should be.

    Posted by: David | Apr 16, 2008 9:48:14 AM

  8. Internalized Homophobia strikes again!

    Gay lives aren't supposed to matter shit, and here comes an org to confirm that!

    Just the other day a "gay panic"defense story was posted in here -- with a murderer getting a "manslaughter" instead. This has got to stop.

    But don't expect our well-monied gay orgs to do the stopping.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 16, 2008 9:52:44 AM

  9. "He's just a kid."

    Lawrence King was jsut a kid too. But thanks to Brandon McInerney he's a DEAD KID!!


    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 16, 2008 9:55:56 AM

  10. should be tried as a kid. that's why the law is there.

    jean valjean?!

    Posted by: brad | Apr 16, 2008 9:56:36 AM

  11. Anonymous, you are right. I was being too glib, and I apologize.

    'Why' someone did it is important in just the way you describe. What I meant (and what I should have said) is that I do not agree with the concept that we can ever really know why someone did something. Motives can only be inferred, they cannot be truly known. Making a statement of law dependent on something that can never really be known leads to a dark place. I do not want to try to make windows into men's souls; to me, that's not justice and it has nothing to do with prevention, punishment, or honoring the memory of the victims. It makes other people feel better.

    Posted by: Dennis | Apr 16, 2008 9:59:03 AM

  12. I think there's more to their reasoning than you might think. First and foremost, his age is taken into consideration because of the possibility for rehabilitation. Secondly, experience has taught me that "bullies" or people who disdain gays for no other reason than who we are, are usually closeted themselves. I know two such individuals who ultimately committed suicide. Finally, if you think juvenile incarceration is a cakewalk, think again.

    Posted by: Keith | Apr 16, 2008 10:04:33 AM

  13. Good. He's a junior high school student. He should be tried as a juvenile.

    There's good reason to try children as children; there are differences in brain development and socialization that make the younger among us more prone to being successfully rehabilitated. The child deserves that chance.

    And to claim that this is internalized homophobia is utter and complete nonsense. It's called compassion.

    Posted by: Dan E | Apr 16, 2008 10:29:03 AM

  14. You guys are funny...
    You want it both ways!
    The murder of Lawrence King is a hate crime, no question, but it's also about KIDS killing kids.

    As much as 15 and 16 year old kids may want to be adults, they are not. They ALL do stupid things, they ALL do things they regret, and most have moments when they behave badly, very badly. None of you need look beyond yourselves to understand what I'm talking about. While that's certainly no excuse and the murder of Lawrence King was a horrible event, these events are not just about kids killing kids, it's about the lack of involvement of parents and schools, and it's about schools and teachers not protecting students.

    Kids are kids, not adults

    Posted by: Fred | Apr 16, 2008 10:34:24 AM

  15. I don't understand where these groups come up with these idiotic statements - like none of us were 14.

    Sure, 14 year old have poooor impulse control, but this wasn't an impulse. The evil piece of shit had to find a gun, probably test it, figure out how to get it to school and keep it concealed, then create this whole sick scene where he executes King in the middle of his classroom.

    That's a whole lot of clever planning to commit a horrible murder!

    The only thing left is he didn't understand murder is wrong...

    Tried as an adult, because he is an adult!

    Posted by: David B. | Apr 16, 2008 10:38:14 AM

  16. Bravo!!!! I hope the District Attorney sees fit to change his decision and try this kid as a kid!

    Posted by: peterparker | Apr 16, 2008 10:40:33 AM

  17. Here's the thing. The human brain doesn't completely evolve until around the age of 22-25: that's when a brain becomes an adult brain. Before then, kids aren't fully able to reason right and wrong in longterm views: things seem like the end of the world, when really they can be quite trivial in the grand scheme of things. For these reasons, I'm vehemently opposed to trying 14 year olds for murder 1 as an adult. I do think that for the most heinous crimes, trying as a child doesn't work quite well either, because then they can get out of prison by around 21 - and that's just not fair for the victims, not enough of a deterrent for people under the age of 18. If someone 14 or under commits that kind of crime, I don't think they should be in prison any longer than 25. Older than that and I think the fair vs. unfair calculation would need to be morphed, though at no point do I think people who commit these crimes should have their *entire* lives ruined when there's a chance they can be rehabilitated and be productive members of society at some point, especially if these crimes are committed before the brain was fully matured.

    Posted by: Ryan | Apr 16, 2008 11:04:02 AM

  18. I am rather conflicted on this. On the one hand, he is a juvenile and I do think juveniles should be handled in a separate system; however, the notion that he will be released from juvenile detention at 18 or 21 for a heinous premeditated murder without regard to whether or not he is rehabilitated upon becoming an "adult" is disturbing. Part of the problem with the rehabilitation programs of the juvenile justice system is that they cannot hold an unrehabilitated prisoner after becoming an adult and they can't send the prisoner to an adult facility or some other alternative facility thereafter for further rehabilitation. Personally, I think such alternative facilities designed for children who become adults while being rehabilitated would be imminently more preferable than sending a fresh adult into hardcore prison with hardened criminals as an influence. Just look at the children who committed the shooting at the Jonesboro middle school. They got out at 21 and one of them has already been arrested twice since his release. He murdered 5 people and was also convicted of attempted murder of 10 more, and for those offenses served less than 7 years in a facility. This situation is no different. Unrehabilitated child-murders should be able to be held beyond their 21st birthday if they continue to pose a threat to society, but it also does society no favor to per se treat them as adults. The system needs a third way.

    Posted by: Craig | Apr 16, 2008 11:05:28 AM

  19. The US penal system is messed up beyond belief - there's really no "good" option here. The rehabilitation system is ineffective for adults and children (eg, the criteria for having been rehabilitated is reaching 18/21 years of age), yet the adult system is a completely syphon of time, space, and money, while at the same time making little or no effort at rehabilitation prior to the completion of a sentence. Or, they just send someone to the chair, since I guess we're all bloodthirsty barbarians with a desire for unfulfilling revenge.

    Posted by: scientitian | Apr 16, 2008 11:22:16 AM

  20. If all the apologists for teenage fag killer Brandon McInerney want him tried as a juvenile out of some concern that he's not responsible for his actions, then don't you think we should pass federal legislation banning minors from using, owning or possessing firearms under any circumstance?

    If teenage impulse control is inherently so questionable as some on this board contend, then under no circumstance should they ever be allowed around guns, period. However, that is not the case because, as Hillary Clinton can tell you, and there's a wonderful tradition in America of fathers passing down their love of guns to their sons. Indeed, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of teenagers do own and use guns responsibly, and have the maturity, control and wisdom not to start murdering people they don't like with them.

    Moreover, some of these apologists for Brandon McInerney have really missed the mark; the fag killer was not involved in some silly "boys-will-be-boys" misguided prank out of impulse; rather, with pre-meditation he carried a gun to school with the specific intent of murdering another human being which he in fact carried out. What the hell was "impulsive" about this? There was nothing "juvenile" about this perpetrator other than the fact that he was a couple of years shy of being allowed to joining the United States Marines.

    Posted by: History of Gay Bars | Apr 16, 2008 11:45:28 AM

  21. "If teenage impulse control is inherently so questionable as some on this board contend, then under no circumstance should they ever be allowed around guns, period."

    Doesn't that go without saying? And since when could 14 year olds own hand guns? If that's the case in some parts of the country, I'll add it to the list of reasons I can thank god I'm from Massachusetts.

    Posted by: Ryan | Apr 16, 2008 12:02:11 PM

  22. Ask yourself which is more important, justice or revenge.

    Call it what you will, but trying Brandon as an adult isn't justice. I don't see how it could be. Those that think murdering gays is acceptable aren't going to be deterred by one boy going to prison, aren't going to think twice about the consequences to them or others. Tougher hate crime laws haven't deterred anyone so far, in fact the number of hate crimes has gone up in the past eight years. Tell me what purpose sending a boy to prison will serve?

    Personally, I would rather see justice done. I support the efforts to show compassion to someone who still has a chance at rehabilitation. I can only hope he doesn't waste that chance if he gets it.

    Posted by: Mark | Apr 16, 2008 12:14:10 PM

  23. @Ryan

    My understanding is that teenagers (& younger) are allowed to use and carry guns; I grew up in a small, rural town, and yes there was a lot of unsupervised gun use by juveniles, and some kids even got rifles and shotguns as Christmas presents; however, to the best of my knowledge, none of them ever went on human killing rampages because -- contrary to the so-called LGBT leadership referenced in the original post -- they in fact had the maturity, control, knowledge & wisdom to understand that murdering people is wrong. There may be age-restrictions in some states on carrying a concealed permit for a handgun, but the reality (and the law) in most places in America is that teenagers can own and use guns otherwise in accordance with the law.

    If teenagers legally are allowed access to and the use of guns, then they should be held responsible as adults for illegal uses of those guns. However, if people now are contending that teenagers lack the necessary ability to handle guns responsibly, then under no circumstance should the law allow them ever to have any legal access to guns of any type.

    Posted by: History of Gay Bars | Apr 16, 2008 12:17:16 PM

  24. This is great news--a victory for common sense, as well as compassion, in dealing with this terrible event. From very early on, gay groups (whom I often disagree with) have showed inspiring leadership in arguing that socially prescribed fear and anxiety affect everyone, and not only the most obvious victims.
    Aside from the significant differences in the adolescent and adult brains, one difference between an adult who commits a serious crime and the juvenile who does the same is that the adult is not spending one-third of his daily life entirely under the control of an involuntary social system apparently dedicated to confusing, harassing, intimidating, belittling, and boring him. Whether you consider it from the point of view of traditional concepts of justice or a more utilitarian concern for simply reducing acts of violence, juveniles need to be treated as juveniles.
    By the way, folks close to this case--friends of Larry and his family--have repeatedly said that Brandon was harassed because of his apparent tolerance of Larry, and in agony before the shooting. Even if he were tried as an adult, this would affect the status of the charge against him. The awful lesson of this case is that he wasn't some rotten kid looking to beat up a faggot, or, as someone here conjectured, boasting about it afterward. If you don't think junior-high school could drive a person literally to violence, try teaching in one in 2008.

    Posted by: coolbear | Apr 16, 2008 12:20:22 PM

  25. If it were any other crime but murder, I would agree. Try this as an adult crime.

    Posted by: angrycitizen | Apr 16, 2008 12:31:31 PM

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