A California judge on Thursday postponed the arraignment of 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, charged with premeditated murder with a special hate-crime allegation in the slaying of 15-year-old gay classmate Lawrence King. This is the second postponement in just over a month.
According to witnesses, on February 12, McInerney shot King in the head just as first period began in a packed classroom at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, a port city of 200,000 about 60 miles north of Los Angeles.
Ventura County superior court judge Kevin McGee continued the arraignment until July 24 to permit McInerney’s attorney, Senior Deputy Public Defender William Quest, to file a motion which, if successful, would transfer the case to juvenile court. McInerney has been charged as an adult under Proposition 21, a controversial 2000 law enacted by ballot initiative that affords district attorneys almost unilateral discretion to try juveniles as young as 14 as adults for certain felonies.
In a telephone interview with The Advocate on Wednesday, Senior Deputy District Attorney Maeve Fox, who is prosecuting the case, said that “the biggest, obvious difference” between the juvenile system and the adult system is that the “range of punishment if we keep him in adult court is much broader, and the maximum potential based on the charges that he faces now is 53 [years] to life. Fourteen- and 15-year-olds cannot receive life without the possibility of parole in California.”
As for the hate-crime enhancement, Fox said that “as far as the punishment goes, it doesn’t add anything significant. It’s one, two, or three years additional.”