A judge has declared a mistrial in the two-month-long case against 17-year-old old Brandon McInerney, who shot gay teenager Lawrence King twice in the head in February 2008.
The jury couldn't decide whether to convict McInerney as an adult of
first-degree murder, with hate crime charges, or of
voluntary manslaughter. The former charge would have netted McInerney at least
53 years in prison, the latter only about 20. The Los Angeles Times reports that the last jury vote was 7 to 5 in favor of a manslaughter conviction. The Ventura County District Attorney's office could now refile murder charges in an attempt to get the case retried or offer McInerney another plea deal. The Ventura County Star reports that a past offer of 25 years to life was rejected by McInerney's defense team.
King and McInerney were classmates at Oxnard, Calif.'s E.O. Green Middle School. King, who occasionally wore makeup and high-heeled boots to school, was bullied by many students in the school, including McInerney, according to prosecutors in the murder trial. McInerney's white supremacist beliefs, along with deeply ingrained homophobia, drove him, at age 14, to shoot King, Ventura County district attorney Maeve Fox claims. McInerney's defense counters that King flirted with and "harassed" McInerney, driving him to shoot the 125-pound King. Many, including Fox, accuse the defense of putting forth a "gay panic" argument.
Check back on Advocate.com for more information. Click here for previous stories on the trial.