Lawrence "Larry" King, was , a 15-year-old gay student at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California, United States. He was murdered by a fellow student, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, because he was gay.
Larry was born on January 13, 1993. He was placed up for adoption because his biological father had abandoned his wife, and his mother was a drug addict who failed to care for her son properly.
By the age of 15, Larry a resident of Oxnard, California had silently endured years of taunting and bullying from his classmates. As early as third grade, King began to be bullied by his fellow students due to his effeminacy and openness about being gay, having come out at ten years old.
Testimony from his teachers indicates that Larry was well-liked by the staff and most of his peers. They describe how Larry had recently started to assert himself and fighting back against the onslaught of relentless bulling at the hand of a vocal minority at his school. One of his teachers described Larry as: “gaining a new confidence” and making statements such as, “I am what I am’. Larry had also begun experimenting with his image and how he dressed as is typical with many young gays. This would later become the crux of the defenses argument that Larry contributed to his own death by causing “Gay Panic”.
"Larry King for the first time in his life wasn't taking it anymore"
Larry learned to fight back against his tormenters, which in one case prompted him to chase down a student who had snapped his picture with a cell phone camera and smash the phone. More importantly, Larry learned to attack back against his much larger adversaries in the only way he could, by using his sexuality as a weapon. Reports indicate that Larry attempted to embarrass Brandon McInerney who was his principal tormenter and ring leader of the most heinous attacks on Larry. In one instance, Larry walked onto the basketball court in the middle of a game and asked McInerney to be his Valentine in front of the team who then made fun of McInerney. In another, Larry passed McInerney in the school corridor and called out, mockingly, "Love you baby". “McInerney then tried to recruit friends to jump Larry, as reported by his fellow students; and when that was unsuccessful, McInerney made another plan”.
Larry was declared brain dead on February 13, 2008 after being shoot twice in the back of the head execution style by Brandon McInerney. He was kept on life support so that his organs could be donated. His story ending on February 14, Valentine’s Day.
Brandon David McInerney was 14 and stood a foot taller than his victim. He was athletic and what one might describe as a stereotypical jock and until the months preceding the murder had been a good student then his grads started to decline. McInerney also had a very dark side:
He had been raised by a homophobic, abusive, alcoholic father. He was born on January 24, 1994 in Ventura, California. He came from a turbulent and violent home life including reports of domestic violence, and that his father shot his mother in the arm with a .45-caliber pistol. And in another instance, his father had choked his wife almost to unconsciousness after she accused him of stealing ADHD medication from her older son. His mother also had a criminal history and was addicted to methamphetamine.
Larry’s best friend would later tell ABC News that "McInerney would make daily threats against Larry saying things like: “I'll get you later. I'm gonna hurt you,”
If Larry dressed the part of a young gay, McInerney was his polar opposite with closely shaven hair in the skinhead fashion. Upon his arrest, the police discovered a copy of “Mein Kampf” and a notebook filed with drawing of Nazi symbols in his backpack as well as other white supremacy and gang related material at his home. Reports suggest that McInerney 's actions were "spurred on in part by a hatred of gays, in line with his alleged neo-Nazi sympathies."
What is clear about Brandon McInerney was summed up best by Larry’s father at McInerney’s sentencing when he said, "You took upon yourself to be a bully and to hate a smaller kid, wanting to be the big man on campus. You have left a big hole in my heart where Larry was and it can never be filled.”
The day before King was shot, the two boys had been bickering in an eighth-grade science class. When Larry got up to get a drink of water, “McInerney said ‘I am going to shoot him.’
Here is how a Newsweek story led off a piece addressing the murder:
“At 15, Lawrence King was small—5 feet 1 inch—but very hard to miss. In January, he started to show up for class at Oxnard, Calif.’s E. O. Green Junior High School decked out in women’s accessories. On some days, he would slick up his curly hair in a Prince-like bouffant. Sometimes he’d paint his fingernails hot pink and dab glitter or white foundation on his cheeks. “He wore makeup better than I did,” says *** ***, 13, one of his classmates. He bought a pair of stilettos at Target, and he couldn’t have been prouder if he had on a varsity football jersey. He thought nothing of chasing the boys around the school in them, teetering as he ran.
But on the morning of Feb. 12, 2008 Larry left his glitter and his heels at home. He came to school dressed like any other boy: tennis shoes, baggy pants, a loose sweater over a collared shirt.”
McInerney was witnessed repeatedly looking at Larry during a class in a computer laboratory. At approximately 8:15 as Larry unsuspectingly worked on a paper on World War II, McInerney moved in behind him, drew from his backpack a .22-caliber pistol, and shot Larry twice in the back of the head before the unbelieving eyes of dozens of students and his teacher.
Following the shooting, McInerney tossed the handgun on the floor and walked from the classroom. He was apprehended by police about seven minutes later and five blocks away from the school campus
It should have been an open and shout case for the prosecution. The facts of the case were undisputed that McInerney murdered Larry King in front of many witnesses.
McInerney was charged as an adult and on August 7, 2008, He pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder and a hate crime. Latter, McInerney fired his public defender and was represented by the United Defense Group. The trial was postponed several times due to motions from McInerney’s defense team. The trial began on July 5, 2011.
According to the Los Angeles Times ,“Over eight weeks of testimony, the prosecution laid out a case of premeditated murder by McInerney, who prosecutor Maeve Fox described as a bright boy from a broken and violent home who knew what he was doing when he brought a .22-caliber gun to school.”
None of the facts of the killing were disputed by the defense; instead, it was argued that McInerney's actions should be understood as precipitated by a sudden and total dissociation in reaction to King's gender presentation (gay panic), and not premeditated murder. The defense claimed that Larry's interactions with McInerney constituted sexual harassment and characterized Larry’s sexual comments to McInerney as predatory that he was the true bully. It was argued that “the school administration had been more concerned about defending King's civil rights than recognizing that his behavior and what he wore – high heels, makeup and feminine clothing – made other students uncomfortable.” The defence also appeared to reach out for” jury sympathy by calling several of McInerney’s relatives to the stand to testify to the abuse the young boy suffered at the hands of his drug-abuser father.”
On October 5, 2011, the judge declared a mistrial after a nine-woman, three-man panel couldn't reach a unanimous decision on the degree of McInerney's guilt for killing 15-year-old Larry King. After a series of votes, seven jurors were in favor of a voluntary manslaughter conviction, while five others supported either first-degree or second-degree murder.
ON November 21, 2011 to avoid a retrial, Brandon McInerney agreed to plead guilty in a plea deal to voluntary manslaughter and use of a firearm and was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
According to the news reports on Califorina public radio station KPCC, “the plea deal calls for McInerney to be given the harshest sentence under California law for voluntary manslaughter — 11 years — and use of a firearm — 10 years, McInerney is ineligible for time served or good behavior because he pleaded guilty to murder.”