CHATSWORTH, Calif. — Ventura County deputy prosecutor Maeve Fox told jurors in her closing arguments on Thursday, “It’s natural to feel sympathy for youthful murder defendant Brandon McInerney, who grew up in a home so violent and dysfunctional that he wasn’t even allowed to cry after his father punched him in the face. But the law does not allow for sympathy.”
As the eight week long Lawrence King murder trial moves into its final phase, Fox called the case a “tragedy on all levels,” as she addressed jurors in a packed suburban San Fernando valley courtroom. Fox however, cautioned that McInerney’s actions in E.O. Green Junior High School’s computer lab in Oxnard, California on February 12th, 2008, was nothing less than first-degree murder.
In a separate ruling that angered prosecutors, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell will include the manslaughter instructions for the jury, which court observers say are expected to get the case by as early as Friday. The jury of nine women and three men will be now allowed to consider manslaughter — along with the murder charges — for the now 17-year-old, who is being tried as an adult.
McInerney, who was only 14 years old at the time of the killing, has been charged with shooting the then 15 year old King twice in the back of his head, execution style.
Fox told jurors in the murder case that McInerney became angry after King said either “love you baby!” or “what’s up, baby!” in a school corridor, expressions that were directed at McInerney. So angry, Fox said, that he told a friend that he was going to bring a gun to school to next day.
But rather than cool off, Fox said, McInerney packed a .22 in his backpack the next morning and pulled out the weapon during a first-period class and shot King twice in the back of the head. That constitutes premeditated murder, the Ventura County prosecutor said.
Any other arguments by the defense – that McInerney was provoked into the shooting by King’s aggressive flirtations or that he had endured a hellish childhood – are smokescreens, Fox said.
“No amount of revisionist history and attempts to paint Larry King as some kind of predator can ever change the fact of what occurred in this case. That is: Larry King was executed for who he was.”
Fox’s closing comments in the eight-week murder trial — which was moved to Chatsworth because of pre-trial publicity — also sought to downplay the impact of damaging testimony given by several teachers at the Oxnard junior high. The teachers testified that King’s dress and teasing behavior was causing tensions but that the administration failed to do anything about it.
The defense is expected to begin its closing arguments on Friday. McInerney did not testify during the trial.