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.”