Opening arguments in Lawrence King murder trial

Lawrence King, two years before his murder

Opening arguments were heard today in the case of Brandon McInerney, who is accused of shooting his classmate Lawrence King in Oxnard, Calif., in February 2008. The murder took place in a computer classroom in front of 24 classmates.

King, 15, was openly gay.

McInerney’s attorney is using gay panic as a defense. They said their witnesses will testify that King showed romantic interest in McInerney, which humiliated the shooter.

The prosecution will try to show that the two students argued days before the murder but that a gay kid who was bullied in school wasn’t stalking skinhead bullies around campus. King, who had begun wearing makeup and jewelry to school, became the target of bullying. Even if King had expressed interest in McInerney, it wouldn’t be a justification for murder.

According to the LA Times, one student will testify that the day before the murder, McInerney said he was going to shoot King. That would prove premeditation.

After McInerney shot King in the head, he ran from the school and was caught several blocks away. He has not denied killing King.

At the courthouse today, McInerney’s older brother was found talking to jurors, telling them that his brother’s fate was in their hands. The judge banned him from the courthouse unless called to testify.

Although he was only 14 at the time, McInerney is being tried as an adult. He faces hate crime penalty enhancements that could result in a sentence of 53 years to life in prison if convicted.

—  David Taffet

Murder not being handled as hate crime by San Antonio police

On Feb. 21, Cody Carmichael, 21, shot and killed Troy Clattenburg, 24.

The murder took place in Clattenburg’s mother’s apartment in San Antonio. Carmichael was arrested and confessed to the murder. He said he shot Clattenburg because of unwanted sexual advances.

San Antonio police are refusing to investigate the murder as a hate crime and Carmichael is preparing a “gay panic” defense, according to the San Antonio Express News.

Carmichael and another man were at Clattenburg’s house earlier in the evening. The two left. The other man gave Carmichael the gun. He returned and shot Clattenburg. No charges have been filed against the other man who supplied the gun.

—  David Taffet

Jacquielynn Floyd at the DMN gets it right

Ever since the joint TABC/FWPD raid on the Rainbow Lounge on June 28, people in the LGBT community have been outraged over the police reports indicating that patrons in the bar made “sexually suggestive movements” toward officers and that Chad Gibson — the guy who ended up in ICU with a brain hemorrhage — groped an officer.

We in the LGBT community know the “gay panic” or “trans panic” defense when we see it. And we know it’s B.S. Which is one reason the LGBT community has been so angry over this whole thing.

But the non-LGBT community, at least in this instance, just doesn’t seem to get it. Except for Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd.

In a column on the DMN site posted today, Floyd says: “there’s something odd and disturbing about the official version of events submitted by the Fort Worth police officers at the scene. Yes, I mean the creepy “groping” allegation.”

She also writes: “There’s an ugly and unprofessional whiff of ‘gay panic’ about the police report, which seems to say, ‘We didn’t use excessive force. But if we did, how can you blame us? We were groped by gay men!’ Even if the groping tale were true, would it excuse breaking somebody’s head? If women got a pass for cracking the skull of any man who made an unwelcome pass in a bar, there would be an alarming rise in the incidence of head injuries.”

Yes, it’s been more than a month since the Rainbow Lounge raid occurred. And yes, we would have liked to see someone in the mainstream press point out the “gay panic” thing a little earlier. But Ms. Floyd has done it now, and I, for one, am glad she did.

—  admin