Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mistrial in Lawrence King's Hate Crime Case

About three years ago, 14-year old Brandon McInerney walked up to 15-year old Lawrence King and shot him in the back of the head, point-blank, twice. McInerney is now 17, and the judge in his case has declared a mistrial after the jury could not reach a consensus. McInerney was being tried as an adult.

The prosecution alleges that at least 6 people heard McInerney threaten King. McInerney told a friend that he was going to bring a gun into school the day before he killed King.  The defense alleges that McInerney snapped after repeated sexual harassment by King and the school's unwillingness to do anything about it.
"The school administration has been accused of being more concerned about defending King's civil rights than recognizing that his behavior and what he wore – high heels, makeup and feminine clothing – made other students uncomfortable" (HuffPost).
 Maybe some queer tolerance seminars were needed? If Larry King wanted to dress in female clothing, he had the right to do so! If other people were bothered, they need to get a handle on themselves.

A commenter on an LA Times article brings up an interesting point:

Kyle Richards writes, "He killed another person, but there is no justice. What if he had killed a girl who had said those same words, 'What's up, baby?' The jury would not have hesitated to convict him of 1st degree murder. The jury was stuck on whether to convict McInerney of voluntary manslaughter, which means that he "had no prior intent to kill and acted during 'the heat of passion,' under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed."

A consensus seems to be have been reached on two facts:
1. McInerney's attack was premeditated.
2. McInerney was disgusted by the attentions of a gay male.

Gay panic, much? Except a key component of the "gay panic defense" is the passion of the moment. Since Brandon McInerney planned the killing, he had plenty of time to cool off. His age does mitigate his abilities to calm himself down, but I don't want a precedent where a "reasonable person" can kill a gay man because they're freaked out.

Could I kill a straight girl for hitting on me? Hell. Fucking. No.

Now, I also think that McInerney should not be tried as an adult because he was only 14. His brain wasn't finished developing. Yes, he may have grown up in an abusive home. No, that does not give him an excuse to kill someone. However, his age and the abusive home can explain some of his violent tendencies. He needs help, but he does need punishment. Hate crime charges should be pursued, but maybe the prison time on them should be dropped for good behavior or the time he's already spent behind bars or something.

The hate crime designation is crucial because this was a hate crime - a crime committed against Larry King because of King's sexuality and gender presentation.

Was it okay that King taunted McInerney? No. But if King was female, would we even be having this debate? Nope.
"[Updated at 4:31 p.m., Sept. 1: McInerney was stoic as the judge declared a mistrial, but after jurors left he smiled at his family members, some of whom he hadn’t seen in three years, and blew a kiss to his girlfriend.  King’s family did not react and left the courtroom without commenting.]" (LA Times).

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