Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
A California teen who shot an openly gay classmate point-blank in the back of the head pleaded guilty to second-degree and voluntary manslaughter on Monday, and will spend 21 years in prison, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Following days of conflicted between Brandon McInerney, 14 at the time of the 2008 shooting, and the openly gay Larry King, McInerney took a gun to school and shot King twice in Oxnard, California’s EO Green Junior High computer lab.
Several teachers had testified that they tried to report that King faced growing tensions with a number of boys at the school, but that school leaders had shunned their efforts. King wore makeup and women’s accessories to school, and often flirted aggressively with straight boys at school.
The LAT with more:
The victim's mother, Dawn King, revealed for the first time Monday that she had contacted school officials four days before the shooting in an effort to solicit their cooperation in toning down her son's behavior. The boy had been taken from the Kings' home two months earlier by authorities because of problems at home.
She said she was told that her son had a civil right to explore his sexual identity.
"I knew, gut instinct, that something serious was going to happen," she said. "They should have contained him, contained his behavior."
McInerney's first trial ended in a hung jury in September, and the plea bargain allows him to avoid a second trial that could have resulted in a life sentence.
Prosecutors originally painted McInerney as a homophobic, young white supremacist, but eventually, the hate crime allegation was dropped. Still, at the end of the trial, jurors were split between murder and manslaughter. And the Times reports that "some jurors said they believed the district attorney's office was being overly harsh in trying McInerney as an adult and several showed up Monday wearing ‘Save Brandon’ bracelets."
King’s father, Greg King, said he was satisfied with McInerney’s 21-year prison sentence. "Twenty-one years is a long time" King said. "At the end of the day, this is something we can live with."
McInerney will be transferred to a state facility when he turns 18 in Jan. 2012. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, an organization that provides support for gay and lesbian students, said the plea shows McInerney is being held accountable for his crimes.