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.


  1. says

    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.

  2. kipp says

    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.

  3. Scott says

    >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.

  4. Wes says

    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.

  5. Chas says

    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.

  6. Donald says

    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.

  7. Chas says

    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?

  8. Malibu Boy says

    “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.

  9. David T says

    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.

  10. Chas says

    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?

  11. peterparker says

    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.

  12. wetcnt says

    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.

  13. marty says

    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.

  14. banjiboi says

    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.

  15. kipp says

    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…

  16. noah says

    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.

  17. Wyatt says

    For the people saying he should be tried as a juvenile and have the chance to be rehabilitated I have some news for you, There is a slim chance he’ll actually receive any rehab, more likely he’ll spend a couple years in juvenile hall, then released and have his records sealed. In my opinion thats not justice.

  18. Landon Bryce says

    Knowing the specific circumstances in cases involving juveniles is essential before one has a opinion worth expressing. None of us know enough to be able to say whether he should be tried as an adult or not. I can’t imagine feeling sorry for him, no matter what happens, but I think it’s good for the general public to know that some gay folks think the kid should be tried as a juvenile and some gay folks want him fried. We can be merciful and we can be vengeful, just like other real people. It’s nice to read Willy Quest’s comments to the Advocate; maybe he is backing away from the gay panic defence he seemed to be gearing up for earlier.

  19. Giovanni says

    He is a child – a deeply disturbed child but a child nonetheless. Of course he should be severely punished but his life still has value despite his terrible crime. God help him now and God bless brave, beautiful Lawrence King.

  20. Weezy says

    The killer is a kid, but he’s still a killer. Even if his brain isn’t fully developed and can’t fully comprehend the total impact his act did, he shouldn’t be let out on the street. He should, at his age, be able to understand that murdering someone is wrong. Most 14 year olds do. If there is some reason (organic rather than poor upbringing) that he doesn’t understand this, then he should be locked up in a mental health facility for the rest of his life. If he DID understand that murdering another person is wrong, he should also be locked up for the rest of his life. This boy shouldn’t be free ever again. I don’t think 14 year old killers should be sent to an adult prison, but I don’t think they should ever walk free again.

  21. David R. says

    Thank you PeterParker, Chas, et al.

    I am deeply saddened by comments like Weezy’s. While McInerney’s crime was heinous, reprehensible, etc., he is still in his formative years and so is more likely to be rehabilitated. His rehabilitation might include speaking to others about the dangers of guns around impulsive kids, about the dangers of homophobia. This direction could provide at least a version of restorative justice.

    The simplistic response of locking him up forever and the hypocritically disgusting desire that he be gang raped in prison does nothing to improve him or our society. Yes, they might be emotionally satisfying, but nevertheless puerile. How ’bout we don’t stoop to his level.

  22. Tom says

    David R.,

    With your suggestion that “his rehabilitation might include speaking to others about the dangers of guns around impulsive kids, about the dangers of homophobia” one can only hope you aren’t involved in the least with the criminal justice system.

  23. queendru says

    If he’s not tried as an adult he’ll be free to go by aged 24. This was premeditated murder. This wasn’t someone with an anger management problem snapping when hit on by his victim. THAT you might expect from a 14 year old. You do not expect the long chain of events taken by King’s murder.

    He left school. He located a fire arm. He ensured the fire arm was loaded. He returned to the school. He located the victim. He fired two rounds into the head of Lawrence King, murdering him.

    That’s not a lynching, Noah. It’s not mob mentality, it’s not vengeance to demand he be held to account for the ADULT crime he committed.

    Larry’s life had VALUE. The sentence passed upon young King was DEATH. All we want is for McInerney to face JUSTICE with all the weight and consequence his actions demand.

    David R., you must be truly empty-headed. Speaking to others about the dangers of guns around impulsive kids is a rehabilitation you offer when you have a child who plays with a fire arm, not one who MURDERS a peer in cold blood. What’s the lesson going to be? Here’s a dose of reality. It’ll be something like this: “Hey, McInerney killed that dirty little faggot and was free as a bird before he was even 25. I think I’ll take care of that damn queer who was checking me out in 5th period.”

    If he is tried as an adult, as he should be, it will serve as a warning that MURDER is not an acceptable expression of homophobia just because you’re a high school freshman.

    These groups need to put down their weed and love-in liberalism and think about the message they’re sending to the next McInerney or Larry King. Who would be out in school and not worry about person safety when so-called leaders and gay rights groups support the murderer of one of their own?

  24. Lucky says

    This is the kind of thing that happens when parents breed hatred. I say he should be tried as an aduld and put on death row to await execution. When a little punk like this decides he wants to take a gun to school in order to kill…he made a decision to end a life. Premeditated murder is what it is and he should be shown no mercy! This kind of shyt has to stop. We cannot let this ignorant hate filled piece of shyt go on with his life when he took a life. No sympathy should be given and a message has to be sent to all who teach hatred in the home and in the hate filled churches. This is what happens and this is what needs to STOP…NOW! Death penalty in this case should be carried out and carried out every Time a jackass like this thinks he is better than anyone else! Parents need to start teaching their kids that there are many different types of people and no one has a right to control anyone else’s life…especially taking the law in your own hands because you don’t agree with another lifestyle. This lawbreaker had no right and we cannot let this go unpunished!

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