Attorneys for Brandon McInerney, on trial for the slaying of California gay youth Lawrence King, have filed a motion to have Judge Charles Campbell removed from the case, claiming he is biased toward the prosecution and also harbors antigay sentiments -- against defense attorney Robyn Bramson (pictured, center, with co-counsel Scott Wippert, left), among others, the Ventura County Star reports.
Bramson, who described herself in court as "not a heterosexual," and Wippert filed their motion at the end of court proceedings Thursday. Campbell, a Ventura County Superior Court judge, denied the motion, but Bramson said she will appeal it. According to the Los Angeles Times, under such circumstances, the judge who is challenged is allowed to continue hearing the case but must file a response within 10 days. A judge chosen by both sides in the case or by the California Judicial Council then makes the final decision on removal.
McInerney, 17, is charged as an adult with murder and a hate crime for shooting King to death in 2008 in a computer lab at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard. King was 15 at the time and McInerney 14. King had often come to school in feminine clothing and makeup and flirted with McInerney. As there is no question that McInerney pulled the trigger, arguments by his attorneys have centered on his motives. Testimony has involved the abuse he suffered at home, neo-Nazi dogma he was exposed to, and the idea that King's behavior caused McInerney to "snap." The defense attorneys say the lesser charge of manslaughter would be more appropriate than murder.
In their motion, the defense attorneys say Campbell has been rude toward them and allowed the prosecution more leeway than the defense. They also claim that he was angered when they insisted Wednesday on asking one witness, an expert on hate groups, why McInerney did not shoot a lesbian classmate if he was supposedly under the sway of vicious anti-LGBT bias. The judge ultimately allowed the question, but according to the filing, he warned the defense team that he would allow the prosecution to reveal that McInerney's mother, Kendra, is a lesbian. Bramson reiterated this in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday, the Star reports:
"Bramson gave a more than 15-minute impassioned argument Thursday, saying Campbell was biased, that he used the word 'queer' to describe shooting victim Larry King, and that he essentially threatened the defense by saying the prosecution could out McInerney's mother, Kendra, as a lesbian. Bramson also said that Campbell knows she is a not a heterosexual and is biased against her, as well."
Despite the allegations of Campbell's antigay bias and his remark about victim King, the defense attorneys say he is also biased toward the prosecution. "Bramson argued Campbell has scowled at the defense team, cut off defense lawyers and embarrassed them in front of the jury while he treats the prosecution with kid gloves," the Star reports. In court, Bramson said, "This has been ongoing since the beginning of this trial. There are myriad previous examples in this motion that show clear bias against the defense."
Prosecutor Maeve Fox denied the allegations of favoritism and said the defense attorneys "have been intentionally pushing and stepping over the line" and now have "personally attacked" her.
On Friday, the defense moved for a mistrial in the case, a motion that was also denied. Read more here.