The boy who allegedly gunned down a gay classmate at an Oxnard junior high school was motivated at least in part by neo-Nazi beliefs, prosecutors contended Tuesday.
Brandon McInerney, who was 14 when Larry King was fatally shot during a computer lab class, was acquainted with local neo-Nazis and kept a notebook with elaborate drawings of Nazi symbols and regalia, according to testimony from an investigator. McInerney, who is now 15, has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder.
"The evidence strongly indicates he had been indoctrinated to some level," said Dan Swanson, a Simi Valley police detective and specialist in neo-Nazi gangs. On the second day of McInerney's preliminary hearing in Ventura County Superior Court, Swanson discounted earlier testimony that McInerney had black and Latino friends at school, contending that white supremacists are accustomed to hiding their true beliefs.
A search of McInerney's bedroom and backpack yielded the notebook, seven of Hitler's speeches translated into English and a book about SS troopers who had been former members of the Hitler Youth. The collection reflected an interest in the Nazis that was far more profound than the World War II book report McInerney had been assigned, the investigator testified.
Swanson said the teenager's family was friendly with a white supremacist in Oxnard's Silver Strand area. The man told Swanson that he and his girlfriend allowed McInerney to sleep in their apartment a night or two before the shooting.
The prosecution image of McInerney as a violent, cold-blooded racist was at odds with the picture advanced by his defense attorneys, who cast the gangly youth as breaking under a cascade of sexual insults from King.
Teachers and students said the two had tangled for weeks, trading taunts and getting into a shoving match, according to Robert Coughlin, an investigator for the Ventura County district attorney's office. King was only 4 foot 11 inches tall, but he lashed out verbally and chased boys who picked on him for wearing makeup, nail polish and high heels, Coughlin said.
McInerney's attorneys described King as an aggressor. He got under McInerney's skin by publicly declaring his love for him. Other boys complained that he would blow them kisses. A substitute teacher told investigators that King put his hands down his pants and wiped them off on her and other students, although her account was disputed by prosecutors.
"He was harassing other students," said Scott Wippert, an attorney for McInerney. "There was a climate of harassment at school that surrounded not only Larry but also Brandon."
The defense contention angered prosecutor Maeve Fox.
"Is the defense 'gay panic'?" she asked. "This is just a fishing expedition to paint Larry King as someone who needed killing."
Testimony is expected to conclude today.