Lawrence King Murder Trial To Begin With ‘Gay Panic’ Defense

6a00d8341c730253ef0134856d6be5970c-800wi It's hard to believe that it has been three years since 14-year old Brandon McInerney allegedly walked into his middle school classroom and shot his classmate, Lawrence King.

But, it has been, and now McInerney's trial is set to start today in Los Angeles, where his defense attorneys reportedly plan on playing the "gay panic" card to explain his actions that fateful day.

From the Los Angeles Times:

McInerney's lawyers, Scott Wippert and Robyn Bramson, say their client doesn't deny the killing. But they argue it was voluntary manslaughter because the adolescent was provoked by King's repeated sexual advances.

Fellow students say the two had clashed for days over King's expressing his attraction to McInerney. King, who was living in a children's shelter because of problems at home, had recently gone to school wearing eye makeup and women's accessories.

McInerney was humiliated by King's advances, his attorneys said. He came from a violent home and decided to end his misery in a way that made sense to him — with a gun. He shot King "in the heat of passion caused by the intense emotional state between these two boys at school," Bramson said last week outside the courthouse, where jury selection was underway.

McInernery's lawyers will also argue that their client was too young to fully understand the scope of his actions and to deal with King's "advances," which it sounds like they plan on painting in the most predatory light possible.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, will argue that McInernery, now 17, planned his attack and should therefore be charged with a hate crime.


  1. MacroT says

    This whole affair is just a tragedy. Both children lacked proper adult guidance and support, and the school should have stepped in before things got out of hand.

  2. ichabod says

    McInerney was humiliated by King’s advances, his attorneys said. He came from a violent home and decided to end his misery in a way that made sense to him — with a gun. He shot King ”

    This is, indeed, tragic for both young men and their families, but I hardly feel the “he shot King because that made sense to him” defense should hold much water in a court of law. I mean, seriously?

  3. kodiak says

    i believe he acted out of ‘gay panic’. a panic caused by his fear of his own sexuality, not King’s. the public execution of King is a coded message that said McInerery wasn’t gay, in the strongest way possible. King felt comfortable with his sexuality. this was too much for the killer to bear. the lawyers are trotting out the ‘gay panic’ warhorse again. If the killer was from a violent home, like the lawyers said, a home where using a gun to resolve issues is the norm, perhaps the defense would best be served by going that route. But still, walking into a classroom and killing someone in cold blood is about as bad as things can get. King was probably having problems at home because of his being upfront about his sexuality. He was the real victim here. Probably kicked out of his house by his parent(s), and then executed by a classmate. A victim twice. Perhaps the parental units should be on trial here, or at least attend some sensitivity sessions. Deep ignorance at work here resulting in a young child’s senseless death. Effing sad.

  4. says

    It’s too late for “sentitivity sessions.”

    This isn’t about gay-bashing. Brandon McInerny didn’t beat up Lawrence King because King “made a pass at him.”


  5. Matthew says

    This was not “in the heat of passion.” It was premeditated! He brought a gun to school and planned to use it. This defense surely has no chance, right?

  6. Marc C says

    @ICHABOD: “I hardly feel the “he shot King because that made sense to him” defense should hold much water in a court of law. I mean, seriously?”

    It would depend on how packed the jury is with Orange County scum.

  7. Paul says

    and why on earth is shooting someone to death because they made a pass at you any kind of defense for murder ??? Seriously….? It’s totally understandable to be driven to murder because someone of the same sex made a pass at you ??? That’s saying to people that having a gay person find you attractive is as bad as someone trying to kill you.

  8. kodiak says

    I used the term ‘coded message’ because I think his murdering King says two things: 1) that he is not gay and won’t take this “abuse” by a gay, 2) by murdering King, I’m killing the part inside me that is attracted to guys. Number two is the coded part.

    If this isn’t about gay bashing, what is it about?

    It’s not too late for sensitivity training. It’s exactly the right time for it. Maybe it will stop it from happening again. i don’t know what the school did for it’s students with regard to this tragedy.
    But I hope they did include some discussion about accepting people for who they are, or want to be.

  9. Dastius Krazitauc says

    This wasn’t a crime of passion, which would be spontaneous, this was literally an execution, with McInerney making sure King was dead by shooting him a second time in the back of the head.

  10. yonkersconquers says

    He shot a kid in the back of the head. He shot a kid in the back of the head. He shot a kid in the back of the head. He shot a kid in the back of the head.

    Book him. Seriously.

  11. Robert says

    Schools should have stepped in?!?! Are you kidding me? Schools don’t care about kids with troubles. Ask any kid who has to endure bullying on a regular basis. Do they get help aside from a useless assembly in September? All schools care about are A’s, test scores and prestigious college acceptances. Oh yeah, and benefits.

  12. CPT_Doom says

    What, no Twinkies involved at all? I mean, if you are going to recycle every vicious lie told by a straight man who wantonly murdered a gay man, you may as well go straight to the most successful killer of a gay man, Dan White. He managed to get only 4.5 years for two executions because one of the men was gay – it’s the best use of the “gay panic” – really “he was a faggot and therefore deserved it” – defense out there.

    Shameful and disgusting.

  13. CRISPY says

    Apparently its acceptable in the USA to shoot a gay child DEAD with a bullet to the back of the head if he’s batting his eyelashes at you or some such nonsense.

    With this logic, all women who wear short skirts deserved to be rape.

  14. Oliver says

    Oh yeah, here we go again with the ‘killer being the victim’ routine. I hope McInernery gets to suffer years of unwanted advances in prison.

  15. JW says

    According to the LA Times linked article

    “A voluntary manslaughter conviction would prevent a life sentence, Wippert said, making McInerney eligible for release before he’s 40. Even a finding of second-degree murder would virtually assure that he wouldn’t be eligible for parole until he was in his 70s, his lawyers said.”

    If this is accurate, aside from outright acquittal, which seems unlikely, the best he can hope for is jail until he is around 40. Which would mean he would have served about 25 years—after that his best case outcome is something like 55 years in jail.

    It seems like 25 years in jail, an outcome his lawyer would consider a victory of sorts, is not to be sneezed at.

  16. says

    Hey Coony, of course a 14 year old can make sexual advances. But if this is his argument, it doesn’t only neglect that he planned an execution style murder, it proves that the school system failed both these students in giving them an environment that was tolerant of both their feelings and a safe space to discuss sexual harassment. If this boy felt his only option to end another boy’s advances was to shoot him, then we aren’t properly discussing sexual harassment in our classrooms and we are harboring resentment towards undiscussed sexualities in our school systems.

  17. Nothing Quantitative says

    Why does the sexuality of the person he shot or his motivations for shooting him matter?

    Anyone that is going to commit such an act towards anyone for any reason is clearly unable to participate in society in a productive manner and needs to be tossed in a cell that’s promptly welded shut.

    Would it have been any more acceptable if a gay student had sat down behind a jock and blown his brains out for refusing his advances?

  18. Dastius Krazitauc says

    “Why does the sexuality of the person he shot or his motivations for shooting him matter?”

    Apparently, it matters, and is being discussed here, because those are the circumstances of the case. Motivations for any crime are always considered.

  19. Phil says

    The only thing that will change the atmosphere of hate is a civil law suit against the school district. Why? The bigoted kill pulls the trigger, but the bigoted school administrators set the atmosphere of hate. These administrators are living vicariously and are secretly gleeful when someone does what they want to do themselves: kill some queer kid. A civil law suit would make administrators think twice before they promote hate. Civil lawsuits always have that effect.

  20. Paul R says

    @Phil, saying that all administrators secretly want to kill gay kids and are gleeful when they die is an appalling, paranoid, immature, and completely unsupported accusation. If the administrators were so hateful, they wouldn’t have let King wear makeup or women’s clothing—dress codes could have been created or enforced (and probably should have been if King’s actions put him in such danger at such a young age).

    Unless you’re a teacher or another employee in that school, I’d like to know how you’re familiar with its supposed “atmosphere of hate.” McInerney’s father is, by all accounts, a hyper masculine, antigay jerk. Maybe you should consider that, since parents affect kids a whole lot more than school administrators. Barbarism begins at home.

  21. says

    The California law (which went into effect in 2007, after the first trial of Gwen Araujo’s murderers) does address use of a ‘gay/trans panic’ defense. Unfortunately, it doesn’t completely ban its use. It does say that bias against the victim cannot be used as a motivating factor for the defense of an accused. It also mandates that jury instructions cannot appeal to their possible bias against the victims. But there are loopholes including how the accused’s bias might have impacted their mental state…etc. As with so many anti-discrimination laws, there are lots holes to drive through. :(

  22. BobC562 says

    McInerney was not your average 14 year old (obviously). He had a long history of premeditated violence. He came from a violent household, and he acted in kind. That, however, is not a defense for premeditated murder (heat of passion my ass). For example, there’s video of him taken in Juvie where he just came flying across a locker room and took another kid out who was merely dressing and had his back to McInerney before the attack. He’s being tried as an adult because of his background of multiple violent convictions, and the nature of his “lying in wait” for Larry. It’s clear this kid’s beyond redemption. Sorry to say it, but some people just shouldn’t be out amongst society.

  23. says

    Someone up there (in this comment thread) said how come the parents aren’t on trial.
    I don’t remember reading about Brandon’s mother but I do remember reading about his father. It wasn’t long after the murder occurred, Brandon’s father committed suicide.
    I recently read about the possibility of ‘neo-nazi sympathies’ in the family.

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