A teenager from southern California was sentenced to 21 years in state prison, on Monday, for a murder committed three years ago. The sentence will count independently of the three years already served.
Brandon McInerney, 17, struck a deal with Ventura County prosecutors; he pleaded guilty to second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter, as well as the use of firearms, in the murder of his classmate, an out-of-the-closet homosexual, Larry King, 15, in Feb. 2008, according to an Associated Press report. McInerney shot King in the head, at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard.
Jurors found it difficult to reach a unanimous decision on the degree of guilt in the September trial, leading to the declaration of a mistrial, according to a Washington Post report. A series of votes was later taken by the panel. The last one had seven jurors favoring voluntary manslaughter and five supporting either first-degree or second-degree murder. After the trial, several jurors reportedly said McInerney should have been tried as a child.
Mike Frawley, Ventura County Chief Deputy District Attorney, indicated that the prosecution did not want to risk a second trial and opted to accept a plea deal. Frawley, quoted in an Associated Press report, added that the sentence (11 years for voluntary manslaughter and 10 for the use of a firearm) was the harshest under California state laws and that McInerney's murder conviction will remain.
The murder of Larry King, defense lawyers had earlier argued, was brought about by his repeated sexual advances towards their client, McInerney.
Incidentally, the boys' school had allowed King to wear make-up and heels, in the weeks leading up to the shooting. The permission to do so was in line with federal law that provided students with the right to express their sexual orientation.