Prosecutors Want to Retry Teen Who Killed His Gay Classmate
After a jury locked and a judge declared a mistrial yesterday in the case against a teen who shot a gay student in front of other classmates at his Oxnard high school, prosecutors vowed to push for a retrial.
But experts — and the prosecutors themselves admit — that a second trial may not be any easier than the first.
“The public may see a straightforward murder case, but this case is far more complex, firstly, because of the age of the defendant at the time of the act and, secondly, the manner in which he was raised by his parents, which was clearly dysfunctional and by all accounts horrific,” Michael Bradbury, the district attorney in Ventura County, told the Los Angeles Times.
Because prosecutors believe that defendant Brandon McInerney was lying in wait when he shot Larry King, he has to be tried as an adult.
McInerney could face life in prison for first-degree murder charges if he is tried as an adult, whereas in the juvenile system, he could be released at 25.
Jurors have not been responding to reporters, but experts say that because of McInerney's youth and troubled background, they may have been hesitant to hand out a life sentence.
Laurie Levenson, a Loyola law professor and former federal prosecutor, told the Times:
Jurors felt prosecutors overcharged, and they were clearly not comfortable putting the boy away for life. They probably believed the dynamic between two adolescent boys is not the same as two adults. With a hate crime, there is usually an agenda to go after a whole group, and this case as presented was a very personal. This was a shooting but not a traditional cold-blooded killing. It had an emotional complexity, especially one associated with adolescents.
In the meantime, the family of King settled a wrongful death suit that it brought against McInerney and his family, King's counselors, his school, group home and others, according to the Ventura County Star. The suit claimed that "E.O. Green School, the school district and Casa Pacifica failed to take action when King began wearing women's boots and makeup to school, which they should have known put him at risk."