Jurors began deliberating Friday in the murder trial of Brandon McInerney, the 17-year-old accused of shooting a gay classmate to death in 2008.
The jury began weighing eight weeks of testimony in a trial that included nearly 100 witnesses. Many of those testifying were students and teachers at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard who saw tensions on campus rising after 15-year-old Larry King began coming to school dressed in makeup and girl's boots.
McInerney, then 14, shot King twice in the back of the head in a school computer lab on Feb. 12, 2008. The prosecution says it was a calculated murder carried out in part because McInerney was exploring white supremacist ideology and didn't like homosexuals.
Defense attorneys painted a different picture, that of a bright but abused 14-year-old who snapped after being sexually harassed by King.
Scott Wippert, a defense attorney, closed his argument Friday morning by asking jurors to consider the mind-set of a 14-year-old boy and the humiliation that King was inflicting on McInerney with his aggressive flirtations. Teachers had protested to the administration but no one stopped King's increasingly audacious behavior with boys on campus, Wippert said, winding up a more than three-hour presentation.
"Remember the boy who couldn't cry," said Wippert, gesturing to the silent defendant, who was dressed in a lavender shirt and slacks. "He wasn't allowed to cry. He was a 14-year-old-boy who shot Larry King because he didn't know what else to do to make it stop."
Prosecutor Maeve Fox, in her rebuttal, urged jurors not to let sympathy sway their deliberations. She noted that Wippert brought up the defendant's youthful age at the time of the shooting 39 times during his closing argument.
"You're a human being, emotions come in," Fox said. "But you have to check them at the door. The law requires you to do that."