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California Briefing / VENTURA COUNTY

Shooting suspect pleads not guilty

August 08, 2008|Steve Chawkins

The 14-year-old boy charged with fatally shooting a gay classmate at an Oxnard middle school pleaded not guilty Thursday. A preliminary hearing was set for Sept. 23.

After Brandon McInerney's arraignment, his attorney told reporters that he plans to appeal a Ventura County Superior Court judge's ruling that allows the teenager to be tried as an adult. If convicted, McInerney would face a 53-years-to-life sentence and be eligible for parole in his 60s -- "if he survives that long," said Deputy Public Defender Willy Quest.

The Feb. 12 shooting at E.O. Green Junior High School took place before a teacher and other students as a class was getting underway. Avowedly gay, the victim, 15-year-old Larry King, sometimes dressed in girls' clothing. According to other students, he was frequently bullied and struck back by declaring a romantic interest in his tormentors.

In addition to first-degree murder and a gun charge, McInerney is charged with committing a hate crime. If convicted as a juvenile, he would be released when he turned 25, his attorney said.

-- Steve Chawkins

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