A 17-year-old California student pleaded guilty on Monday to the second-degree murder in the killing of a gay classmate at his middle school back in 2008.
Brendon McInerney, who was 14 years old at the time, took a gun to E.O. Green Junior High school and shot 15-year-old classmate Larry King twice in the back of the head during a class in a computer laboratory because King allegedly made sexual advances toward him. King died at a local hospital two days later after being taken off life support.
McInerney accepted a plea deal by Ventura County prosecutors that will land him 21 years in prison without time off for good behavior. The agreement marks the end of what Newsweek previously described as "the most prominent gay-bias crime since the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard," bringing the issues of gun violence and gay-related hate crimes to the forefront.
McInerney was scheduled to be retried on Monday after his first trial, which began in July of this year, culminated in a hung jury. Prosecutors contended that the then 14-year-old subscribed to a white supremacist ideology that fueled his hatred for homosexuality, as police recovered skinhead and Neo-nazi books and drawings from his home. In addition, McInerney was known to have had experience with firearms because he would often go target shooting with his family.
Although the defense acknowledged that McInerney did in fact carry out the crime, it argued that he reached a breaking point after constantly being sexually harassed by King, and that his violent upbringing did not help matters. His mother had a criminal history and was addicted to methamphetamine, and there were several documented instances of violent domestic disputes between McInerney's parents.
King's father told KABC-TV that while he does not feel the sentence in severe enough, he understands the burden that prosecutors were faced with when trying to convict an individual that was only a young teenager when the crime was committed.
"I don't think that 21-year sentence is justice for my son, but I understand the reality that was facing the D.A. of trying to convict a defendant who was 14 ... when he committed the murder," he said.