Brandon McInerney has been sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murder of Larry King.
In 2008, a 14-year-old McInerney shot fellow classmate Larry King at a school in Oxnard, California. While the actual motive is unknown, McInerney’s lawyers have argued that King’s homosexuality and cross-dressing were contributing factors.
It is claimed that a growing feud was taking place between the boys, with allegations of bullying and sexual advances between them. School officials, the lawyers argued, did nothing to diffuse the situation and protect either boy.
McInerney’s lawyer, Scott Wippert, told the court: “He feels deeply remorseful and stated repeatedly if he could go back and take back what he did, he would do it in a heartbeat.”
As a result of the deal made with prosecutors, McInerney will serve 21 years in prison starting next month, once he turns 18. He will receive no credit for the four years he has been held while waiting for trial, and there will be no opportunity for parole.
The murder and trial have been hot-button issues for gay activists who have spoken out and called the murder a hate crime. Television host Ellen DeGeneres addressed her audience after the shooting.
“I would like you to start paying attention to how often being gay is the punch-line of a monologue or how often gay jokes are in a movie. And that kind of message, laughing at someone because they’re gay, is just the beginning. It starts with laughing at someone, and then it’s verbal abuse, then it’s physical abuse, and it’s this kid Brandon killing a kid like Larry,” DeGeneres said.
Supporters of McInerney have argued that he should not have been tried or sentenced as an adult. “Given that juvenile court was not an option, it’s difficult to say that we are satisfied with 21 years but we accept that that was the right way to go,” Defense Attorney Robyn Branson told reporters.