McInerney Sentenced to 21 Years for Killing Gay Teen

BY Neal Broverman

December 19 2011 4:15 PM ET

In a California courtroom on Monday, Brandon McInerney was sentenced to jail for 21 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his gay classmate Lawrence King.

McInerney, in custody since the February 2008 killing, will remain in prison until he is 38; he was 14 at the time he shot King in a computer class at Oxnard, Calif.'s E.O. Green Middle School. King identified as gay and occasionally wore makeup and high heels to school. Defense attorneys say King aggressively flirted with McInerney, driving him to the murder. The prosecution called this a "gay panic" defense and said McInerney was a white supremacist and virulent homophobe.

The Los Angeles Times reports that McInerney, now 17, was shackled during Monday's sentencing and then led away in handcuffs.

After a lengthy trial this summer ended with a hung jury, which couldn't decide whether to convict McInerney of murder or manslaughter, Ventura County prosecutors pushed for McInerney to be retried. McInerney then agreed to plead guilty to the second-degree murder charges and accept the 21-year sentence. Initially, prosecutors were seeking to charge the teen as an adult with first-degree murder and additional hate-crime charges, which would have put McInerney away for the majority of his life. Many jurors found these charges too harsh; some showed up at Monday's sentencing wearing "Save Brandon" bracelets.

Tags: World

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