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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 25, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 47
California teen pleads to Larry King murder
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California teen pleads to Larry King murder

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Brandon McInerney, 17, pleaded guilty November 21 to the murder of 15-year-old Larry King three years ago in a fit of homophobic rage at an Oxnard, California, junior high school. The guilty plea to second-degree murder will send McInerney to prison for 21 years.

The case drew national attention due to not only the brutality of the murder, but the ages of the boys involved. McInerney shot King to death when he was 14 years old because he was offended by King's dress and how the victim interacted with him.

Greg King, Larry's father, said that although he is not completely satisfied with the plea deal, he understands why prosecutors agreed to it. 'I don't think that 21-year sentence is justice for my son, but I understand the reality that was facing the D.A. of trying to convict a defendant who was 14 & when he committed the murder,' he said.

A mistrial was declared in September when several jurors couldn't reach a unanimous decision on the degree of guilt. The panel took a series of votes. In the final series, seven jurors favored a charge of voluntary manslaughter, and five supported either first-degree or second-degree murder. The trial had been moved from Ventura County to Los Angeles because of pretrial publicity.

Prosecutors say they agreed to the plea deal because of uncertainty about what might result from a second trial.

The murder conviction will be stayed, and the 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.

After serving nearly four years since King's slaying, McInerney will be released just shy of his 39th birthday. Prosecutors had previously offered a plea deal that would have sent McInerney to prison for 25 years to life, but his attorneys rejected it.

Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, said in a statement the plea agreement ends a tragic chapter.

'Ventura County, along with communities and school districts everywhere, must come together to promote a culture of respect and nurture the true potential found in every individual regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,' Byard said.

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