Crime | Lawrence King | News

McInerney Lawyer Promises Not to 'Gay Bash' in Lawrence King Case

William Quest, the attorney who is battling to have Lawrence King's 14-year-old killer, Brandon McInerney, tried as a juvenile rather than an adult, says he is sensitive to the case because he has a gay sibling:

Kingmcinerney"I can tell The Advocate I’ve got a young brother who’s gay. I saw how difficult it was for him to come out. Now, he came out when he was in college at Berkeley, [so it was] easier than in junior high. But I saw the struggle he went through...and I hope [this is] not perceived as gay bashing because it’s not. That’s not who I am."

Quest says he'll argue that school officials and teachers knew of friction between the two students and failed to respond adequately and also cites McInerney's troubled family life (drug addiction and domestic violence) as part of the reason for the child's violent behavior.

A coalition of gay groups including including 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, have also urged that McInerney be tried as a juvenile.

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  1. Really? How touching. Both of my parents were heterosexual and I never thought of shooting them point blank twice in the back of the head.


    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 16, 2008 1:26:27 PM

  2. David Ehrenstein is not much of a deep thinker, is he?

    Posted by: crispy | Jun 16, 2008 1:36:54 PM

  3. It makes me very, very happy that all these wonderful GLBT organizations recognize that he shouldn't be tried as an adult. Kids that age just don't have brains that are fully formed in terms of reasoning: they think minor things are the literal end of the world.

    This whole tragedy unfortunately represents an opportunity to show society that we need to teach kids about acceptance, that being gay is okay, from a very early age. We should also teach that it's okay if someone has feelings for you that you don't share; that if that happens, you need to deal with it rationally by alerting that person that you just don't share the same feelings. If we could do that better, we could prevent these crimes from taking place, even knowing that kids' brains aren't fully formed in terms of long-term reasoning.

    Both the parents and the school certainly made major mistakes, and obviously McInerny did too. He's not unaccountable for his actions, even at 14. He'll be paying for those mistakes for a long while, hopefully by getting the help he needs so, as an adult, he won't hate gay people or act out violently. I just don't think he should be locked up forever - and certainly not terminated - because, at 14, he was too quick to react and too stupid to react properly to something he vehemently feared.

    Posted by: Ryan | Jun 16, 2008 1:38:01 PM

  4. This is such a tough, sad story. He was only 14... but at the same time, I'm not sure I want to give a person who actually followed through with pre-meditated murder the benefit of the doubt. You can argue for leniency based on bad parents when somebody shoplifts or picks a fight. But executing someone is the kind of offense that can't really be tolerated by leniency.
    Tried as a juvenile, this guy is looking at a short incarceration and then he would be set free. In all likelihood, his record would also be supressed. I don't think that is a harsh enough penalty - and he can't be subjected to that penalty if he's tried as a juvenile. I think his youth should be taken into account at sentencing - but 14 year-olds know what murder is. He should face the consequences.

    Posted by: kipp | Jun 16, 2008 1:45:04 PM

  5. >Kids that age just don't have brains that are fully formed in terms of reasoning: they think minor things are the literal end of the world.<

    This is SUCH a load of bullshit! the MURDERER should be tried as an ADULT. It was an ADULT crime. Age has NOTHING to do with it. This kid was old enough to do the crime he is CERTAINLY old enough to do the time. Hopefully when he is convicted of 1st degree murder and put in prison for life he'll be gang raped repeatedly. Im so sick of hearing that because he was 14 he didnt know what he was doing. Please! he know enough to 1) get ahold of a hand gun 2) figure out how to use 3) get it past his parents and 4) get it into school and the classroom. This sounds pretty together to me. Also if the defense is going to try and use his parents as an excuse, why not put them on trial as well.? the whole case just sickens me, more so for the excuses people are making for the murdering bastard.

    Posted by: Scott | Jun 16, 2008 1:54:53 PM



    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 16, 2008 1:58:38 PM

  7. Kids are tried as adults all the time when they commit serious crimes such as murder. It's not like trying him as an adult is some kind of exception they're making just because the victim was gay. On the contrary, had he brought a gun to school and shot a hetero kid he would likely be charged as an adult.

    Posted by: Wes | Jun 16, 2008 2:02:11 PM

  8. Kipp, how short would that "short incarceration be"? And what does it mean to supress someone's record? I'm asking seriously, not to be a smartass.

    Of course there's no way to excuse what McInerney's done, but 14 is definitely not the age of reason or rationale for most people. At 14, I was angry, dispondent, violent, prone to losing my temper over the littlest things, and a compulsive overeater. I never killed anyone but I probably came close to it on a couple of occasions. The kicker is I had no clue WHY I was so fucked up. I grew up in a stable home with strict but loving parents, a far cry from what McInerney's allegedly been surrounded by. And yet there I was, a complete terror. It took me years to realize that it was hormones and severly lacking social and communicative skills--combined with the fact that I was hyper sensitive with no outlet for my feelings--that did me in. I'm a completely different person now because I've been given time to grow and mature and learned from my mistakes.

    So no, I don't think Brandon should be tried as an adult because he's NOT an adult. He's a child who's done a terrible, terrible thing and will be punished for it. Not only is Lawrences murder going on his permanent record, essentially eliminated any hope for a successful future, but he's going to have to carry what he's done with him for the rest of his life. Also, no amount of retribution is going to bring King back no matter how long the sentence or severe the punishment.

    Posted by: Chas | Jun 16, 2008 2:16:48 PM

  9. *"short incarceration" be?

    Posted by: Chas | Jun 16, 2008 2:19:22 PM

  10. Oh god, it's full of typos :-/ Whatever. I think I got my point across.

    Posted by: Chas | Jun 16, 2008 2:22:02 PM

  11. It was pre-meditated murder. He knew exactly what he was going to do.
    Try him as an adult and execute him. If the courts want to rule by the bible, as they are prone to do these days, eye for an eye, hand for a hand, life for a life.
    Maybe other people would stop and think before doing something as stupid. Doubt it but it could not hurt to set an example.

    Posted by: Donald | Jun 16, 2008 2:38:52 PM

  12. Yes, executing a 14 year old would really send a positive message. I'm sure it'd open up a lot of hearts and minds.

    Would those of you braying for blood want the kid executed if his victim were straight and not at all queer-identified?

    Posted by: Chas | Jun 16, 2008 2:55:53 PM

  13. "permanent record", "gay agenda" and "gay lifestyle" really do make me laugh. As if someone who murders like that can be rehabilitated enough to erase that from their record. Whether he was 14 or 19, he needs to be kept away from society so he can't murder again. And no, execution is not the answer.

    Posted by: Malibu Boy | Jun 16, 2008 3:12:54 PM

  14. He's a child, not an adult. The distinction has been made in American jurisprudence for hundreds of years, and correctly so.

    You shouldn't apply an adult mens rea to a child with a frontal lobe that isn't fully developed. Even a college student's frontal lobe is developing. So what does this mean for a child of 14 with a violent home life?

    How can you advocate for such archaic legal applications. As a gay man, I am (we are?) constantly amazed at the religious right seeking simple solutions to complex issues, based on either emotion, the Bible, or lack of education. It is sad to see the same proclivities on a gay blog.

    Posted by: David T | Jun 16, 2008 3:15:18 PM

  15. Chas - yes. Murder is murder, gay or straight.

    Posted by: Donald | Jun 16, 2008 3:59:41 PM

  16. An eye for an Eye leaves everyone blind, D. Nothing anyone could do to Brandon is going to make up for the loss of Lawrence.

    Does anyone know what the relationship was like between the two of them before the murder? Was it a bully-victim thing or something else?

    Posted by: Chas | Jun 16, 2008 4:10:14 PM

  17. I'm horrified by this murder, but frankly I'm more horrified by the adults here who write such things as "...FRY THE LITTLE MONSTER...", "...age has NOTHING to do with it", "Try him as an adult and execute him...", etc...

    I am a licensed psychotherapist who has put in literally thousands of hours of psychotherapy work with adolescents. Their brains are NOT fully formed at that age and are still developing. Because their brains are not fully developed, they don't always fully understand the consequences of their actions. They rarely make rational decisions. And they are impulsive as hell. They are often incapable of making adult decisions because they do not have an adult brain!

    It is grossly unfair to try a 14 year old as an adult, no matter what the crime. And for those of you who are going to chime in by saying that it was unfair to McInerny to kill King with a gun, yes, it was terribly, terribly, horribly, unfathomably unfair. But ask yourself this: is it more unfair for a child to kill another child...or for a society ruled by adults to punish a child by killing him?

    The larger problem here is not a 14 year old CHILD who took a gun to school and shot a same gender classmate who asked him to be his valentine. The main problem is a culture of anger, violence and revenge--a culture that we would feed if we were to try this CHILD as an adult with the possibility of being executed for his crime.

    Posted by: peterparker | Jun 16, 2008 4:25:55 PM

  18. Donald, if you measure justice by 'an eye for an eye' then we'll all be blind.

    There is an opportunity here to see justice done without ruining another life. We can send this kid to an adult prison and end up creating another monster who will be dumped on the streets to unleash more havoc, or we can look at real alternatives for rehabilitation.

    And for those of you so hell bent on killing this child, that's called vengeance, not justice.

    Posted by: wetcnt | Jun 16, 2008 4:56:12 PM

  19. Should have read down a bit, Chas beat me to it with the 'we're blind' comment. Apologies for the repeat.

    Posted by: wetcnt | Jun 16, 2008 4:58:13 PM

  20. Thankfully cooler heads are prevailing it seems.

    This is a child, not an adult. For those who are just not able to look at this situation other than with a knee jerk emotional response, this is why we have a judicial system in place to deal specifically with juvenile offenses. To prevent the knee jerk response. Clearly, our best and brightest gay legal organizations have reached the same conclusion. Let's focus for a minute.

    Posted by: marty | Jun 16, 2008 5:22:28 PM

  21. This is a tough one. On the one hand, I can agree with those who say he should be tried as an adult. I live in BedStuy (Brooklyn), and I've come across all types of young teens who have and would in a flash could cause some serious bodily harm if they choose to target somebody because they are gay - or otherwise. And my anger at the circumstances surrounding this tragedy has left me somewhat biased. With each passing generation, kids become more and more sophisticated than the predecessors. That in itself makes me want to believe that they are far m ore conscious of their action than some of us would like to believe.

    I do also understand that we're talking about KIDS here. So should we make judgements on a case by case basis? Fry 'em all? Treat all pre-adult crimes as just that? Prosecute all hate/bias crimes to fullest extent of the law, regardless of age? I don't mean to sound wishy-washy, but I truly don't have a definitive answer for this one. Too many gray areas.

    Posted by: banjiboi | Jun 16, 2008 5:25:30 PM

  22. I, too, apologize for my typos. But then again, just about ALL of my comments have typos!

    Posted by: banjiboi | Jun 16, 2008 5:28:07 PM

  23. I'm glad Andy posted this article. People were excoriating the defense attorney in earlier posts without knowing anything about the man.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jun 16, 2008 5:53:36 PM

  24. I am concerned that if McInerny is tried as a juvenile, he will be released in the span of 5 to 10 years and, possibly, the record of his murder will be sealed. I don't think McInerny should have the option of living a "normal" life after a 5 year stint in juvenile detention for what he did. King will not get to live any kind of life now because McInerny decided on, and calculatingly followed through with, murdering him.
    I think execution is not the proper sentence - but the inevitable reduction in potential penalties that comes from trying him as a juvenile is also unacceptible. I'll say it again: Even 14 year-olds know what murder is. Those that choose to commit murder should have to face the consequences.
    The bullets McInerny fired into Lawrence King's skull didn't consider that we was "only 14" and change their course. If King didn't get a reprieve because of his tender age, I don't think McInerny deserves on either...

    Posted by: kipp | Jun 16, 2008 7:53:14 PM

  25. I have to agree that some of the comments are vile. Mob justice, the kind of lynching mentality apparently held by some, is wrong. The human brain is not fully formed for men until they reach their early twenties.

    Towleroad has an article today that provides scientific evidence of the difference between gay and straight male brains. There are lots of conservatives who would toss that evidence aside and proclaim that homosexuality is a choice.

    Therefore, it's appalling that gay men who want to use science to defend their homosexuality would dismiss it because it gets in their way of vengeance.

    The kid deserves to be punished for his crime; but there's a reason why our society left behind the execution of children ages ago. Children are not little adults. They don't have the ability to make truly rational decisions.

    This isn't colonial America or pre-Enlightenment Europe or modern-day Iran (where accused gay teenagers are executed). If we want to believe that we have grown as a society, a people, and believe in science and not superstition, then we have to act accordingly.

    Children can be rehabilitated. They can also be prosecuted under hate crimes laws in juvenile court when their motivation is hate related.

    The law provides for juveniles to be sentenced to prison or hospitalization until the age of 25. That is plenty of time to determine if this kid is really irredeemable. If he is judged as severely mentally ill and a danger to society, he can be committed for further time.

    Posted by: noah | Jun 16, 2008 7:59:31 PM

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