BREAKING: Mistrial in Lawrence King’s murder

Lawrence King

A judge has officially declared a mistrial in the case of Brandon McInerney, who fatally shot gay 15-year-old Lawrence King in a California classroom in 2008, The LA Times reports.

Following an eight-week trial and 15 hours of deliberations, Judge Charles Campbell declared a mistrial today because the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous agreement on whether to find McInerney guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. The vote was 7-5 in favor of convicting McInerney of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The mistrial ruling means the prosecution could choose to re-try the case, or the defense and prosecution could reach a plea deal. McInerney’s lawyers have previously refused a plea offer of 25 years to life, according to The Ventura County Star. A first-degree murder conviction would have carried an automatic sentence of 50 years, while manslaughter could have brought as little as 14 years.

The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, a national organization that promotes safe schools for LGBT students, issued a statement Thursday evening saying the mistrial ruling is “hardly a surprise.”

“This was always destined to be a case with little resolution and no winners, whatever the verdict,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “The central facts remain the same: homophobia killed Larry King and destroyed Brandon McInerney’s life, and adults failed both young men because of their own inability to deal forthrightly and compassionately with the multiple challenges they each faced. The jury’s indecision is a sad reflection of our collective inability to find common ground and invest in a better future for all youth and a culture of respect for all.”

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Gay man takes over Apple; judge allows jury to weigh lesser charge for McInerney

Tim Cook

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. New Apple CEO Tim Cook may be the most powerful gay man in the world. Even before Cook was named CEO after Steve Jobs’ resignation on Wednesday — and even though he’s not really out — he was No. 1 on Out magazine’s Power 50.

2. A judge ruled Wednesday that the jury can consider a lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter for 17-year-old Brandon McInerney, charged with first-degree murder for fatally shooting gay 15-year-old Lawrence King in 2008. A voluntary manslaughter conviction could result in a sentence of as little as 14 years, while a first-degree murder charge carries a mandatory 50. Closing arguments begin this morning in McInerney’s trial.

3. Even though his killers yelled anti-gay taunts, police aren’t investigating the beating death of a gay Iowa teen as a hate crime. Marcellus Richard Andrews, 19, died Sunday from injuries he suffered in the incident early Friday in Waterloo, Iowa. Authorities say “bad blood” between the parties, not anti-gay hatred, motivated the attack.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Fatal gay-bashing in Iowa; McInerney’s defense rests; Goss-Michael split

Marcellus Andrews

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A 19-year-old college student was beaten to death in an apparent anti-gay hate crime in Waterloo, Iowa, early Friday. Marcellus Richard Andrews was sitting on a friend’s porch when a group of people who apparently knew him rode up in a pickup truck and began taunting him with anti-gay slurs. A fight broke out, and after being kicked in the head at least once, Andrews was left unconscious with severe head injuries. He was pronounced dead at a hospital more than two days later. Police are still looking for the suspects and have not yet classified the incident as a hate crime.

2. The defense rested Monday in the murder trial of Brandon McInerney without calling him to the witness stand. McInerney, 17, is being tried as an adult on charges of murder and a hate crime for the fatal 2008 shooting of 15-year-old gay student Lawrence King in Oxnard, Calif. The defense is hoping McInerney will be convicted of voluntary manslaughter instead of murder. The prosecution is now presenting its rebuttal case, and closing arguments could be heard by the end of this week, which is the seventh of the trial.

3. Pop singer George Michael and his Dallas-based partner, Kenny Goss, have split up. Well, actually Michael says they haven’t really been together for 2 ½ years, even though they’ve led the media to believe otherwise. Michael came clean about it all during a performance Monday in Prague, when he also dedicated a song to Goss. Read about it here and watch the video below.

—  John Wright

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

Ellen's plea for understanding

I just saw a video clip that apparently is from the Ellen DeGeneres Show that will air today (Friday, Feb. 29). In it Ellen talks about Lawrence “Larry” King, the 15-year-old in Oxnard, Calif., who was allegedly shot and killed, at school, by a classmate. Apparently, Larry — an out gay kid — had asked the other boy to “be his Valentine,” and that’s what prompted the boy to shoot him.I cried when I first heard about this tragedy. I cried again when I watched this clip from Ellen.I cried for Larry King, and for every other LGBT person who has ever been teased, taunted, intimidated, threatened, injured or killed just for being themselves. And I cried for the children who have to live in this hateful world we have created.My partner and I have two children. Is either of them gay? I don’t know, and it certainly wouldn’t make any difference in how we feel about them if they were. But I admit to being afraid for them. Even if neither of them turns out to be a L, G, B or T person, they are still being raised by two moms, and that’s more than enough for some little homophobe-in-training to decide my kids are a good target.My partner and I do everything we can to encourage our children to be themselves and to be proud of who they are. We also do everything we can to make sure they are safe. I can only pray that “everything we can” will be enough.

Like Ellen said, something has got to change. And the change has to start now.

— Tammye Nash

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—  admin