Jury Punts on Case of Teen Who Shot Gay Classmate

Mistrial declared as jury can't decide on murder or manslaughter
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2011 10:01 AM CDT
Jury Punts on Case of Brandon McInerney, Who Shot Gay Classmate Larry King
Defense attorney Scott Wippert right, hugs private investigator, Kathryn Lestelle outside court where a mistrial was declared in a gay student murder trial, Sept. 1, 2011 in Chatsworth, Calif.   (AP Photo/Thomas Watkins)

(Newser) – A jury came up empty yesterday in its attempt to decide the fate of a California teenager who shot a gay classmate in the head at point blank range. The judge declared a mistrial in the case of Brandon McInerney after the jury said it couldn't come to a unanimous decision on whether the slaying was murder or manslaughter. Seven jurors wanted to convict him of voluntary manslaughter, while five were set on first- or second-degree murder, the AP reports. Prosecutors must now decide whether to re-file charges.

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According to prosecutors, McInerney, then 14, and his victim, 15-year-old Larry King, were in computer lab when McInerney took out a gun and shot him in the back of the head. McInerney then stood up and, in front of all his classmates, shot King in the head again. Prosecutors labeled it a premeditated hate crime—Nazi-inspired drawings were found in McInerney’s home, and he had threatened King before. The defense had argued that King provoked McInerney into a “heat-of-the-moment” killing by flirting with him, according to KTLA. McInerney was tried as an adult, and would have faced 53 years to life if convicted of first-degree murder. (Read more Brandon McInerney stories.)

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