VENTURA, Calif. — Brandon McInerney — accused of murdering gay classmate Lawrence King in February of 2008 at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard — has struck a plea deal with prosecutors, and agreed to spend the next 21 years in prison.
McInerney, who was only 14 years old at the time of the killing, was charged with shooting the then 15-year-old King twice in the back of his head, execution style.
Under terms of the deal, McInerney — who has already served nearly four years in jail — would be released by the time he is 38, reported the Los Angeles Times.
McInerney’s first trial ended with jurors split between convicting him of voluntary manslaughter and first-degree murder. Several of the jurors have since spoken in favor of a plea bargain, in order to avoid a second trial.
Prosecutors, in initially deciding to try McInerney a second time, had already dropped a key allegation that the shooting was motivated by a hatred of homosexuals, an accusation that several jurors in the original trial said they did not believe.
During the first trial, prosecutors portrayed McInerney as a budding white supremacist who hated homosexuals and was enraged by King’s sexuality and aggressive flirtations.
The defense argued that McInerney was the product of a violent and dysfunctional home and had reached an emotional breaking point in response to King’s advances.
During the trial, Ventura County prosecutor Maeve Fox told jurors that McInerney became angry after King said either “love you baby!” or “what’s up, baby!” in a school corridor, and that he told a friend that he was going to bring a gun to school to next day.
According to court records, McInerney packed a .22-caliber handgun in his backpack the next morning, took a seat behind King during a first-period class, and shot him twice in the back of the head.
McInerney, who was charged as an adult, did not testify during the trial.