Mistrial Declared in Trial of Lawrence King’s Killer

UPDATE: The judge has declared a mistrial. Prosecutors must now decide whether to refile murder and hate crime charges, according to the AP. See earlier updates for details…

KingmcinerneyGLSEN released a statement following the announcement:

“The mistrial declared today is hardly a surprise," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "This was always destined to be a case with little resolution and no winners, whatever the verdict. The central facts remain the same: homophobia killed Larry King and destroyed Brandon McInerney’s life, and adults failed both young men because of their own inability to deal forthrightly and compassionately with the multiple challenges they each faced. The jury’s indecision is a sad reflection of our collective inability to find common ground and invest in a better future for all youth and a culture of respect for all.”


A mistrial may be declared in the trial of Brandon McInerney, charged with shooting to death his gay classmate Lawrence King in 2008 in their Oxnard, California classroom, the L.A. Times reports:

A judge has ordered jurors in the high-profile murder case of an Oxnard teen accused of shooting a gay classmate to keep deliberating even though they have been unable to reach a verdict despite repeated votes, The Times has learned.

The judge has indicated a mistrial is a possibility…

…A mistrial would bring to a close a trial  that has been followed closely by gay-rights groups that have fought hard to protect gay and transgendered students from campus bullying.

The jury has been deliberating since Wednesday.

This afternoon they submitted questions to the judge, the Ventura County Star reports:

The jury in the Brandon McInerney murder trial submitted questions to the judge this afternoon.

What is a person of average disposition? And what is rationally — regarding a person acting rationally.

The defense team is researching some definitions that the prosecution proposed regarding a person of average disposition. The term rationally has not yet been defined.

Once the answers are determined, they will be sent back to the jury.

The two votes taken were 8-4 and 9-3. The forewoman said it's unlikely they'll come to a verdict.

As the trial closed, prosecutors in the trial argued for a murder conviction, and not the lesser manslaughter conviction the judge allowed earlier this week. Defense attorneys brought  a "gay panic" defense, arguing that McInerney snapped after he was sexually harassed by King.


  1. Stan L says

    I’m beyond outraged by this. Of all the cases I’ve followed in my life, this one is the ultimate slam dunk.

    What is average disposition? Are these jurors dumb or stupid?!

  2. Polyboy says

    I…I…*RAGE* How can there be a mistral, people saw him shoot his classmate.

    I better not hear another goddamned O.J. reference without this executioner being mentioned in the same sentence.

  3. Leo says

    “And what is rationally – regarding a person acting rationally.”

    “The term rationally has not yet been defined.”

    WTF? Instant headache.


    ….will get back to you…

  4. Zlick says

    Are you frelling kidding me?!?!?! The defendant TALKED about planning to kill Larry, brought a gun to school, and shot Larry execution-style in front of dozens of witnesses. WTF?

    I’m a little angry in suggesting this – but does anyone care to use the reaction to the Rodney King verdict as an example of what needs to be done if this MURDERER is let off?

  5. Sancho says

    It’s important to realize that this isn’t an OJ Simpson “not guilty” verdict – some of the people on that jury ARE voting, and voting repeatedly, for conviction. That’s why they’re deadlocked.

  6. ohplease says

    Sadly, this is exactly what I expected. A queer kid’s life is worth nothing. Even a piece of trash like this child-killer is more important to a jury of his peers than the queer kid he executed.

  7. says

    if McInerney was black and King white he’d have been found guilty of murder weeks ago and given the maximum sentence.

    what we have is a straight white boy who premeditated the murder of a classmate and the jury is struggling to figure which crime was worse – the premeditated murder or being a gender-nonconformist gay brown person.


  8. TommyOC says

    I’ve been of the opinion that since the manslaughter charge was allowed by the judge, that the jury would eventually settle on that. I didn’t have faith that twelve jurors could lay aside the “gay panic” defense and find the defendant guilty of first-degree murder.

    And my cynical side thought that would be okay… because the reality of people’s prejudices made it nigh-impossible to convict of murder so manslaughter was better than nothing.

    But to hear that the jury is deadlocked makes me think that either a) there’s a holdout(s) to the murder charge AND b) there’s a person(s) strongly convinced that first-degree murder is the crime that they won’t vote manslaughter; OR c) the jury has tossed out murder but can’t decide on manslaughter.

  9. Lance says

    Brandon didn’t like who Larry was, and he murdered him in premeditated cold blood; what could possibly be the hold-up here?

    Does this mean the next time a straight man talks to me about his sexual desires I can walk into his workplace, blow his head off and then get a mistrial? Absolutely disgusting!

    Like many others, I happen to think the WBC is despicable. But if I were on a jury for a murder case where one of their members had been shot in the same manner, I would have no problem whatsoever ruling in their favor as the facts are facts and a jury is supposed to be impartial and vote as such.

    I can only hope the holdup is because they can’t decide on Murder or Manslaughter, as Not Guilty shouldn’t even be an option.

    Otherwise I’d suggest the White Night Riots ’11.

  10. Pete says

    The jury was not hung up deciding between guilty and innocent, they were hung up on whether he was guilty of first degree murder, second degree murder or manslaughter

  11. JT says

    Im kinda ragefully pissed about this. Let a straight guy give me a sideways look over the next week, I’ll cave his skull in, claim fear for my life due to past harrassment by straight males, and get off scott free.
    No riots…just targeted action, IMO.

  12. Mick says

    Is it possible they were deadlocked because some jurors thought it was manslaughter and some thought it was homicide?

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m conflicted about this case. It’s clear to me that McInery murdered King but I hate to think of him being sentenced to 50 years to life. I want him to be sentenced to 18 years of living with my family so that he can redo his childhood and be raised right.

    As Eliza Byard said above, the adults in their lives failed both of these boys. I guess there are no do-overs in real life.

  13. says

    No consequenses for killing a gay kid, no riots will happen, no gay rage will be shown. We are powerless and valueless! Those who feel sorry for the kid who shot the gay kid, GET OVER IT! He is a killer and full of hate and NOTHING is going to make him a better person! He does not deserve pity OR a second chance. BUT he will get both since he is straight, white and christian!

  14. anon says

    I’m glad I’ve been consistent in my criticism of this trial for a while now. Even from this distance it seems a circus of ineptitude. Both the defense and prosecutors seem to have just passed the bar exam. Free advice: try juvenile court for once and prosecute the case you can win rather than the one outside pressure groups want you to win. This should plead out to juvey murder three (or CA equivalent) before a second trial.

  15. DG says

    I think what they’re hung up on is that he was only 14 when he did it. It may have been decided to try him as an adult, but that doesn’t mean they can all look at it that way.
    Most here don’t seem to consider that a mitigating factor, but it can’t be THAT difficult to see that others don’t feel that way.

  16. TJ says

    DG – yes, it can.

    Lots of tragedy here. It’s easier to see this as black and white. While part of me wants vengeance, another part looks at the “perfect storm.” Damn. Thinking is HARD!

  17. Francis says

    This entire situation is clear as night and day. Brandon McInerney openly declared he would shoot Larry King in the head and did so, twice in the back of the head in the middle of class, because of Larry King’s sexuality and expression of said sexuality and personal gender expression. It’s that simple. McInerney shot Larry because he’s gay in a premeditated fashion. So I don’t see any viable reason whatsoever why the jury is still have issues deliberating on the circumstances surrounding this death.

    Based on what I’ve been reading, the one major sticking point was whether to charge McInerney as an adult or not. Is this decision caused by homophobia? Maybe, maybe not. These are all questions left to be unanswered. But what I do know is that Larry deserves justice, and this is not justice. This is heartbreaking cowardice.

    With everything said, this mistrial now opens up the option of a re-trial and Brandon is certainly not free from deserved punishment. So, I’m going to look at that lone bright spot here, and continue to hope justice is truly served, and Larry’s death does not end in vain.

  18. Francis says

    It’s easy to see this as black and white because that’s exactly what it is. A premeditated cold blooded murder of a 15 year old gay teen by a just-turned 14 year old teen because of that gay teen’s sexuality.

    What’s most tragic about this isn’t even the stupidity or potential homophobia of the jurors who didn’t vote for the murder charges in my eyes. But the fact that now in September 2011, there are still absolutely no answers and no closure for Larry’s loved ones. That everything is in complete limbo and has been trivialized to the juncture it has is just devastating beyond words.

  19. ratbastard says

    @little kiwi,

    Violent black on white RACIALLY MOTIVATED crime and assaults are FAR MORE COMMON than white on black, even though blacks only make up 13% [though 13% is MUCH higher than the black population of Canada, Europe, UK] of the U.S. population [much higher in a few southeastern states].

    I love how the ‘radical’ white [male] hating leftist twist stories like this. My take: a few jurors are holding out, and I’ll bet those jurors are female. Lawyers LOVE female jurors,because they’re easier to manipulate [on average]. It’s also these same leftist who would impose a death penalty, promote soft sentencing, love making it legally difficult for people to defend themselves [while at the same time most leftist HATE cops!], and promote grossly dysfunctional and uber violent matriarchal based sub-cultures, which spawn most of the violent, dysfunctional and lost young men [and women] in our society. But this is all part of the master plan from the beginning; destroy a society you hate from within, by promoting disastrous social [and financial] policies.

    To paraphrase the late, great NY senator, sociologist, Harvard professor and presidential advisor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan A society that allows large numbers of it’s boys/men to be raised in single-parent, female dominated house-holds is asking for serious trouble and is going to get serious problems, with violence, chaos, rage, dysfunctional behavior.

  20. Jude says

    According to ABC: “The nine-woman, three-man jury panel said the last vote resulted in seven in favor of voluntary manslaughter and five for first- or second-degree murder.”

    What does this mistrial mean to McInerney? Is he now a free man or does he remain in custody?

  21. ratbastard says

    what’s that principal / teacher who encouraged Larry’s dangerous and provocative behavior [taken in the context of his at least temporary environment, a public H.S.,have to say? She’s an adult, and she knew his behavior was going to provoke very negative, even violent, responses. And she knew neither her nor the school district were capable of protecting him 24/7, or even in classes [!]


    Brandon cold bloodedly EXECUTED Larry

    Brandon should be convicted of murder, not manslaughter. Due to his age I’d exercise some compassion and not give him the death penalty.

    Brandon and Larry were raised in very chaotic, even violent, ‘families’, by stressed out moms, absent or irresponsible dads. Our society ENCOURAGES, even ENABLES, ‘families’ like this.

  22. ratbastard says

    @ ratbastard

    I stopped reading after the first 7 “leftist”

    Posted by: Kamikapse | Sep 2, 2011 7:51:56 AM


    I said ‘leftist’ ONCE; prefer ‘progressive’?

    The TRUTH is the truth, Kamikapse.

  23. Jenn says

    This was a problematic case, though. “Gay Panic” isn’t a defense that should be tolerated, but are we to believe that gays are incapable of bullying? The defense put on a very strong case–supported by the teachers, students, and school administration–that the victim had bullied the killer for months. The school administration was unwilling to put a stop to the victim’s bullying activities.

    Does that justify murder? Of course not. But I couldn’t have voted for First Degree Murder. 2nd Degree or Manslaughter maybe, but just because the victim was gay isn’t enough for me to ignore the bullying.

  24. Keith says

    My condolences to the King family. . .they deserved justice and the jury did not do its lawful duty. The jurors who voted for Manslaughter should be ashamed of themselves for buying in to the “gay panic” defense, but hopefully in retrial the prosecution will be ready to take this on and put up a stronger case to receive the right verdict based upon the truth of the case.

  25. Mike says

    So he got shot and killed in school, we know who did it, and how( he had easy access to a gun) and we just don’t know wtf to do about it. Sounds about right.

  26. Derrick from Philly says

    “Violent black on white RACIALLY MOTIVATED crime and assaults are FAR MORE COMMON than white on black, even though blacks only make up 13%”

    Yes, and what type of penalties do those Blacks who commit violence against Whites receive, Ratbastard? And when Blacks commit violence against other Blacks do the penalties compare to when they do it against Whites? This is America.

    And we don’t have to discuss what happens when White hetero men commit violence against Blacks and Latinos…and Gays and women. This case shows us.

    “Brandon should be convicted of murder, not manslaughter. Due to his age I’d exercise some compassion and not give him the death penalty”

    And you have compassion for another physical trait that Brandon has–his color. You aint foolin’ anybody, Ratbastard. Not you, not Rick, not Max, not Bob, not Brian…and sadly, not JT.

  27. Ryon Mikeska says

    if something terrible happens to Brandon, it wouldn’t bother me one bit. I am physically sick over this. A sickness that will only be made worse as politicians and states continue to state that gays don’t need hate-crime protections.

  28. says

    This is nothing short of absurd! It is every bit as shameful as Casey Anthony being found “not guilty” Ha!
    I’m glad I’m at the end of my life and not just having to start in a world filled with this much hate. We are heading the WRONG WAY, USA! :(

  29. kyle Michel Sullivan says

    Listen, I’m gay and I understand where people are coming from about this vile murder, but reality is…it was a murder committed by a 14 year old boy from a viciously abusive home. That’s not an excuse; that’s just a fact. And I’d be hard-pressed to find him guilty of premeditated murder and lock him away forever, myself. Teenage boys and girls do stupid things a lot of the time and often are lucky enough not to hurt themselves or someone else. They don’t have the same rational thought processes as adults and to hold them just as accountable as an adult for their stupidity is just plain wrong. He should be punished, yes, but not on the same scale.

    Besides, it’s the adults in this horrible mess who really dropped the ball. I mean seriously — how did McInerney get hold of a pistol when he’s not old enough to even drive a car let alone own a gun? Why did teachers allow the abuse of Lawrence King to happen or subtly suggest it was okay through their actions or lack thereof? Why is the prosecution so focused on this boy’s act and not on the casual homophobia that lead up to it? Tossing this boy into jail will not really handle the problems that lead up to it; it will only give our so-called system of justice a fig leaf to cover themselves with.

  30. says

    Dedicated to ALL the gay martyrs:

    Less Than

    I was treated less than human
    Trash that must be taken out.
    All I wanted was to live and love;
    The dream for me is over now.

    When will this shameful hatred end?
    Why do they care with whom we sleep?
    My family and friends are missing me;
    In their hearts, my memory they keep.

    Just add my name to all of those
    Who suffered much for being “less”
    Less than someone’s child, less than a bug
    Less worthy of love’s sweet caress.

    My pain and trial’s are over now;
    You, my friends, must persevere.
    Please keep the fires of hope alive.
    I died for nothing “less than” ignorance and fear.

  31. Gavern says

    This is a very, very sad and tragic case all round. I’m not sure what I would do if I had to make the decision here. I was also badly bullied when I was that age, I knew full well then what was right or wrong, I wished death upon the people who bullied but as I got older I felt that forgiveness helped me make peace with it. This adolescent needs to be held accountable for his actions, but I’m not so sure I agree with trying him like an adult. I think he should be placed in a facility and deal with his hatred. I don’t think that putting him away for his whole life serves any purpose. It’s easy to target him and release all of our rage upon him but remember there is a bigger issue at hand here. If you take a look at both of their upbringings it’s not surprising. Some kids deal with things better and can make it through but others struggle terribly. Locking him up will not stop this from happening again and again, this needs to be dealt with at the root cause. He looks like he has a lot of anger in his eyes in his 14 year old picture. But seriously, I can’t decide here, yes he needs to be held accountable, but what is the best way to do that? When will the world learn that removing symptoms of the hate does not remove the hate itself. I feel so bad for the young guy who was murdered and I certainly wouldn’t want to be part of the jury. I really don’t know how to decide here.

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