Scroll To Top
World

Fate of King's Shooter Now in Jury's Hands

Fate of King's Shooter Now in Jury's Hands

Mcinnery_kingx390_19
Nbroverman

After the defense concluded its arguments in the Brandon McInerney murder trial today, attorney Scott Wippert continued to paint McInerney as a victim of the effeminate Lawrence King, while in a final rebuttal, Ventura County senior deputy district attorney Maeve Fox pleaded with the jury to not let sympathy toward McInerney or bias toward gay people sway them from a first-degree murder conviction.

The proceedings in a Chatsworth, Calif., courtroom ended yesterday before Wippert could wrap up his concluding statements in the trial of McInerney, who shot 15-year-old King twice in the head in February 2008 at Oxnard, Calif.'s E.O. Green Middle School. For much of Friday morning, Wippert repeated his points from the previous day, saying King's alleged flirtation and effeminate manner helped pushed McInerney "to his limit," therefore justifying a manslaughter conviction, not first- or second-degree murder.

He again took umbrage at Fox's characterization of his defense as one of "gay panic." Though he disputed he was trying to whip up stereotypes of gay men as sexual predators -- which Fox accused him of doing yesterday -- he soon described King's occasional wearing of makeup and high-heeled boots as highly "disruptive" to E.O. Green students and claimed King routinely "harassed" male students, and "victimized" and "humiliated" McInerney.

"The [E.O. Green] boys didn't feel safe in the school," Wippert said, because of the 5-foot 4-inch, 125-pound King.

Wippert brought up an unsubstantiated rumor regarding King giving a valentine to McInerney and routinely brought up an incident where King possibly said, "What's up, baby?" to McInerney. Fox, in her closing arguments yesterday, said "What's up, baby" was said to McInerney just minutes after McInerney told King he was going to shoot him, and that was a normal response to a threat King didn't realize was serious. Wippert, more assured then yesterday, repeatedly told the jury that the "What's up, baby?" was the "straw that popped the balloon" in McInerney's head and cemented his decision to shoot King.

Before he concluded by showing pictures of a smiling McInerney three years ago and saying, "Remember, he was only 14" (when he shot King), Wippert worked to discredit King's onetime best friend, Avery L., saying she had a tenuous relationship with the truth. Avery previously testified that McInerney associated with white supremacists and that it was King who was bullied at E.O. Green, not McInerney. Wippert then zeroed in on former E.O. Green vice principal Joy Epstein, a lesbian who Wippert claims enabled King's wearing of high heels and makeup. Earlier in the case, some E.O. Green teachers testified for the defense that they complained about King's attire to Epstein but that she did little in response.

"Epstein could have prevented this," Wippert said.

Because the prosecution has the burden of proof, it was allowed the last word, with Fox given an opportunity for rebuttal. Fox pounced on Wippert's attacks on Epstein.

"What is it about Epstein?" Fox asked rhetorically. "The liar, the pariah, the person who could have averted this tragedy -- she's a lesbian."

Fox reiterated that Wippert was working to garner sympathy for McInerney by repeatedly bringing up his abusive childhood and mentioning McInerney's age at the time of the shooting 39 times in his closing argument. She also said there was no doubt Wippert was trying to stir up jurors' latent homophobia in an effort to gain his client a lighter sentence. A witness who previously reenacted the way King walked was described by Fox as mockery, and she added that the defense counsel was complicit in the ridicule.

"It's an attempt to reach somewhere deep down," she said. "To a dark place."

Fox countered Wippert's actions by showing a picture of King just a few days before the shooting, smiling and holding up a green dress given to him by his teacher. He had makeup on that was barely visible and was wearing a school uniform, not a dress.

"This is the guy that you are being asked to believe was a sexual predator who tortured the defendant into a state of despair," she said. "This [person] is so threatening to the average male psyche of 14 or 44 or 84?"

King wasn't even a human to McInerney, Fox said, reminding jurors that McInerney told a psychiatrist just that. She closed her case by saying that a manslaughter conviction would require jurors believing an average person would have acted as McInerney did.

The final words of the two-month-long trial hinged on that fact.

"Why did nobody lay a finger on Larry King except the defendant?" Fox asked. "Because [McInerney's] not your average reasonable person. He's extreme and he did the most extreme thing humanly possible, and you should convict him of first-degree murder and find all the special charges to be true."

The jurors were then given explicit instructions on how they should arrive at their ruling. If there is not a unanimous decision or murder or manslaughter, the jury will be declared hung and the case will likely be retried.

Nbroverman
Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.