News (USA)

King murder trial resumes — defense claims accused was sexually harassed

King murder trial resumes — defense claims accused was sexually harassed

Testimony resumes this week in the murder trial of 17-year-old Brandon McInerney, accused of the 2008 execution-style shooting of an openly gay classmate, then-15-year-old Lawrence King.

King, who dressed in a feminine style and told friends he was gay, was allegedly shot the back of the head by McInerney in a computer lab at E.O. Green School in Oxnard, Calif., on Feb. 12, 2008.

Brandon McInerney (left), and Lawrence King

Defense attorneys argue that McInerney was pushed to an “emotional breaking point” after being sexually harassed by King.

The prosecution contents that McInerney was a “budding white supremacist” and that the killing was partly motivated “by a hatred of homosexuals.”

Testimony in the fourth week of McInerney’s trial on first-degree murder and hate crime charges has centered on the defense contention that McInerney, then 14, believed the school wasn’t going to do anything about King’s increasingly flamboyant dress and behavior.

The defense has argued that King was sexually harassing McInerney and was allowed to do so by school administrators who claimed to be protecting King’s right to wear what he wanted as long as he didn’t violate E.O. Green Junior High’s dress code.

McInerney’s lawyer, Scott Wippert, argued that King — and not his client — was the aggressor. He said King targeted McInerney for sexual harassment, making flirtatious remarks, and had humiliated him.

Gay rights advocates say the argument is a classic “gay panic” defense.

Witnesses have testified that King allegedly blew kisses at McInerney and asked him to be his valentine. On the day before the shooting, King allegedly shouted “Love you, baby!” to McInerney as they passed in a corridor.

McInerney told a friend he was going to bring a gun to school the next day, and he did. During a first-period English class, McInerney took out a Saturday night special and shot King twice in the back of the head, witnesses testified.

Up to 30 students reportedly witnessed the shooting.

McInerney is being tried as an adult, and if convicted could face a prison term of 53 years to life.

McInerney’s attorney asked for a mistrial on July 25, citing poor sharing of evidence and witnesses by King’s attorney. The motion was denied by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell. This was the second request for a mistrial by the defense.

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