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Judge Declares Mistrial in Case Against Teen Who Gunned Down Gay Classmate

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A judge has declared a mistrial in the case against teen Brandon McInerney, who was accused of gunning down his classmate Larry King at their Oxnard high school in 2008.

No one disputes that McInerney pulled the trigger, but the jury deadlocked over whether McInerney should be charged with voluntary manslaughter, as the defense argued, or first-degree murder.

Seven jurors wanted a charge of voluntary manslaughter, while the other five voted for a first-degree murder, according to NBC Los Angeles.

The trial has generated national controversy because King was gay. His killing became a flashpoint in discussions over the bullying of gay and transgendered students.

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McInerney's defense argued that the defendant was provoked by King's actions — calling him "baby" and wearing heels and make-up — to pull a handgun out of his bag and shoot King twice in the back of the head.

This is known as the "gay panic" strategy, which has been used with regularity to reduce the sentences of crimes against gays and transgendered victims, according The Los Angeles Times.

Now prosecutors have to make a decision about whether to re-file murder and hate crime charges against McInerney, now 17, who was tried as an adult, The Associated Press reports.

The Los Angeles Timesdescribes the scene in the courthouse:

McInerney was stoic as the judge declared a mistrial, but after jurors left he smiled at his family members, some of whom he hadn’t seen in three years, and blew a kiss to his girlfriend. King’s family did not react and left the courtroom without commenting.