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.

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  1. I say it's open season on heterosexuals.

    If one of them -- you know -- looks at you funny --

    you know what to do.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 1, 2011 11:08:38 PM

  2. 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.

    Posted by: DG | Sep 1, 2011 11:31:56 PM

  3. 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!

    Posted by: TJ | Sep 2, 2011 12:35:06 AM

  4. 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.

    Posted by: Francis | Sep 2, 2011 12:43:19 AM

  5. 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.

    Posted by: Francis | Sep 2, 2011 1:01:03 AM

  6. @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.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 2, 2011 6:58:50 AM


    OPPOSE not impose, the death sentence.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 2, 2011 7:04:05 AM

  8. 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?

    Posted by: Jude | Sep 2, 2011 7:22:49 AM

  9. @ ratbastard

    I stopped reading after the first 7 "leftist"

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

  10. 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.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 2, 2011 8:18:14 AM

  11. @ 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.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 2, 2011 8:23:33 AM

  12. You wouldn't know truth if it mushroom stamped you Ratbastard. All you know, spout, and "research" is jingoistic claptrap.

    Posted by: Polyboy | Sep 2, 2011 9:49:53 AM

  13. Why does this website call this "a shocking mistrial" then go on to say that the mistrail is "hardly a surprise" ?

    Posted by: SearchCz | Sep 2, 2011 9:57:36 AM

  14. 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.

    Posted by: Jenn | Sep 2, 2011 10:12:15 AM

  15. 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.

    Posted by: Keith | Sep 2, 2011 10:34:17 AM

  16. 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.

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 2, 2011 1:09:19 PM

  17. "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.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Sep 2, 2011 3:05:45 PM

  18. So, I guess the judge got the mistrial he wanted.

    Posted by: BobN | Sep 2, 2011 3:30:39 PM

  19. 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.

    Posted by: Ryon Mikeska | Sep 2, 2011 3:48:00 PM

  20. 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! :(

    Posted by: queenrosered1 | Sep 2, 2011 4:42:29 PM

  21. 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.

    Posted by: kyle Michel Sullivan | Sep 2, 2011 4:42:57 PM

  22. 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.

    Posted by: queenrosered1 | Sep 2, 2011 4:51:04 PM

  23. 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.

    Posted by: Gavern | Sep 3, 2011 8:23:26 AM

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